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For One More Day: A Novel Review
A Mitch Albom Fan I Am
I was first introduced to author Mitch Albom when my hairdresser suggested I read Tuesday’s With Morrie. I was so moved by his writing style and story-telling that I immediately wanted more. I found The Five People You Meet in Heaven and was blown away by his concept of the after-life, so when I found For One More Day in the discount bin, there was no doubt I’d be taking it home with me. I’m so glad I did
Chick Benetto feels that he’s come to the end of his road after losing his family, his job and his dignity because of his love affair with alcohol. He drives back to the town of his youth and attempts suicide by crashing his car; however, instead of waking up in Heaven, he finds himself in his dead mother’s kitchen with her cooking and acting like nothing bizarre is happening. Posey Benetto had died at age 79 before Chick’s fall from grace, but her death probably initiated his fall… or, at least his guilt surrounding her death did. She had been the bane of his existence all his life, though Posey did everything she could to nurture Chick and his sister, Roberta. But Chick had been forced to choose between his mother and father all his life and he always chose his father. Then, after his parents split up, Chick blamed her, though he had not known why they divorced. Even though Chick knows his mother is dead, he can’t help but roll with his current circumstances and enjoy the visit with his mother.
Like the plot of A Christmas Carol, Albom takes his character to see three people whose circumstances teach him the major lesson on which For One More Day focuses-- that those we love never really leave us, even in death. Posey takes Chick to visit three of her clients, all of whom will die soon. Two of them have summoned Posey to fix their hair and apply make-up one more time so that they can die with dignity. She allays Chick’s confusion about how she shows up for the dying ladies, saying they summon her with their thoughts and loving memories of her kindness to them when she was alive. Just before she disappears, Posey teaches Chick his most important lesson, one of forgiveness. She tells him the story of why she and his father divorced—a story involving the third woman, which they are now visiting, his father’s other wife whom he had brought over from Italy even though he was never divorced and had been married to Posey for years. His father had been living a double life, and, in death, Posey had come to understand the other wife’s dilemma, and, through spirit, had forgiven her. Posey’s last words to Chick were, “Forgive…yourself.”
I must admit that at first I was not willing to take this journey with Albom. That Chick was interacting with his dead mother after his suicide attempt seemed too cliché. I predicted that he would have to choose between dying in the accident or coming back from the brink of death to fix his broken life. And that’s pretty much what happens. But, Albom’s treatment of the mother’s character is so matter of fact and her story so compelling that I plunged in anyway. Instead of revealing Posie’s story through the narrative, he pieces it together through Chick’s confessions of “Times I Did Not Stand Up For My Mother,” and “Times My Mother Stood Up for Me.” This technique helps readers understand Chick’s current crisis and just how important this one more day with his mother is.
Mitch Albom has a way of making readers believe he really has journeyed into the world of the spirit, and as he shares his observations, he teaches readers how to maneuver through what’s left of our lives in a more positive, less guilt-ridden manner. If you are a fan of his other books, you will not be disappointed by For One More Day.