Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer

In a busy bustling world, many things – and people – go unnoticed and fall through the cracks of life. That’s why the characters in Andy Andrews’ book The Noticer need someone to stop, learn their names, listen to their problems and give them a little perspective. Not just on how to solve those problems, but on larger issues as well.

The noticer in this book is Jones, an affable Everyman who moves through people’s lives and appears, angel-like, whenever they’re at their bleakest points. I like some of his sentiments and analogies, especially his comparison of a potential romantic partner to a tree. The entire tree itself may be too large for a passerby to fully look at or comprehend. But all trees drop leaves, and those leaves tell you a lot about the tree’s species, health and so on – if you examine them.

I also enjoyed the story which deals with forgiveness, and the fact that when many people say “I made a mistake”, what they really mean is “I made a choice”. A conscious decision, in other words, rather than an honest error.

However, the book takes a turn for the Panglossian with the idea that if you’re alive, then you haven’t fulfilled your purpose on earth. This is said by Jones in an attempt to cheer up an old woman who doesn’t feel her life has a meaning any longer, but the logical conclusion is disturbing – does that mean that anyone who dies prematurely (including children) has fulfilled their purpose on earth? Makes me think that the best way to have a long life is to find out what your purpose is and then make sure it never happens.

I requested this book from Thomas Nelson as part of its Book Review Bloggers program because I thought it might be similar to Susan Trott’s The Holy Man. The Noticer shows more of a Christian influence, but I think what really made this not the right book for me was its too-knowing, too-good main character, who even works minor miracles on occasion (as opposed to Joe the holy man, who comes off as quirky and human). It was a pleasant enough read, but not one that really impacted on me.


Anonymous said...

"Makes me think that the best way to have a long life is to find out what your purpose is and then make sure it never happens."

- That line cracked me up. Thanks for posting the review. :)

GunnerJ said...

...when many people say "I made a mistake", what they really mean is "I made a choice". A conscious decision, in other words, rather than an honest error.This seems like a really shaky semantics game. A mistake is a choice, by definition, or else it would be an accident. A conscious decision can be made in honest error.

I realize that he's trying to say that when people apologize for their actions in hindsight by saying they made a mistake, it often really means that they knew at the time it was a bad choice to make. But then, there really was no mistake, and it seems like there's a better way of pointing this out than to contrast a mistake with aspects that define mistakes. No one would say, "You didn't make a left turn; no, what you really did was change direction."

Marian said...

Yes, what the book seems to be getting at is, "I made an honest error because I didn't know better" vs. "I made a conscious choice to do something wrong even though I did know better".

Though as you point out, the definition of "mistake" doesn't fit neatly with the first one. Maybe that's symptomatic of the book as a whole. I get the feeling the author is genuinely trying to express insights and help people, but doesn't have the techniques to do so in any significant way.