Three Weeks With My Brother – by Nicholas Sparks (2004)

three weeks with my brother

The older I get, the more I appreciate a well-written memoir. While author Nicholas Sparks can write great novels, this book, which tells the story of his family, is far superior to any fiction he has written. I do have to say that “A Walk To Remember” was wonderful, but it was fiction inspired by the loss of his sister.

But back to our featured book. In 2003, Nicholas Sparks was exhausted, averaging three hours of sleep a night, and on the verge of a collapse. At the urging of his wife and brother, he took a vacation. And what a vacation it was! Nicholas and his brother Micah went on a three-week guided tour of the world. The descriptions of the famous places they saw were amazing, and left me wanting to see a few of them myself. Wedged between vacation stories, Nicholas writes about his childhood, parents, and siblings, and the journey to adulthood and a family of his own.

This book is really about two journeys – one journey of three weeks with his brother, and the journey of his family over the years. The relationship Nicholas shares with his brother Micah is truly a remarkable one. Even though there were a lot of things that went wrong, their devotion to each other carried them through it all.

As Easy As Falling Off The Face Of The Earth – by Lynne Rae Perkins (2010)

As Easy As Falling Off The Face Of The Earth

“An avalanche of mishaps” is how I would sum up this humorous novel. It begins with Ry, a 16-year-old guy on a train bound for camp. When the train stops in the middle of nowhere for repair, Ry gets off to stretch his legs, then meanders off to explore. Bad decision. Before he realizes it, the train fires up and rolls away – without him. All he has is a cell phone with a nearly-dead battery. He tries calling his parents, who are on vacation, and his grandfather, who is supposed to be dog-sitting for a neighbor, but there is no answer. Where is everyone?

Ry manages to walk to a small town, where he meets an eccentric guy named Del, who takes him under his wing. Most of the story consists of Del and Ry’s travels here and there in their attempt to connect with either the parents or the grandfather, who seems to be missing. Most of the tale is told from the viewpoint of Ry, but occasionally the the grandfather or the two dogs take over telling.

This book was hilarious! I loved the interaction between Ry and Del as they went through one mishap after another. Some of the minor characters were fantastic. My favorite was Carl, the blind vet that they bummed a ride with. The hair-raising ride with him had me laughing till I almost cried. Although the book was written less than a decade ago, it had the feel of an earlier era, when people didn’t mind helping out someone they met on the street, and would just drop what they were doing to be a good neighbor. It was ridiculous enough to be unrealistic, but adventurous enough to keep you constantly reading until the last page.

Stranded In Paradise – by Lori Copeland (2002)

Stranded In Paradise

 

Tess is expecting a big promotion at work. Instead, a friend of the boss gets the job. To make things worse, her current position is being eliminated, and an ultimatum given: take a lower position or be terminated. In her dazed state, Tess walks out on the job, but not before grabbing the plane tickets on her desk. She was scheduled to take a business trip to Hawaii. The ticket is not refundable or transferable, so why not enjoy a vacation before looking for another job?

A trip to Hawaii should be relaxing and fun, but everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. It starts with Tess spraining her ankle before she even makes it onto the plane. After that, it’s just one mishap after another. But mixed in with the mishaps are some great people who become friends and turn the trip into a positive experience. The book is a great reminder that God is with us through the rough times, and He sends people into our lives just when we need them.

The Hunted – by Fred Stoeker and D.W. Smith (2006)

the-hunted

 

Many of us have a dream vacation that we talk about for years, but never actually do. In this novel, four college guys have been having pizza and football parties, and going on rafting expeditions for 15 years. They’ve been talking about the ultimate rafting trip for years, and finally arrange a white-water rafting expedition in an extremely remote part of Thailand.

The trip is a disaster from beginning to end. Nothing goes right, and the four-some ends up running for their lives. Each one of the guys is at a different place in their spiritual life, but each of them feels the presence of God as they go through this terrifying experience. The book contains just the right balance of action and thoughtful conversation, both with each other and with God.

Excerpt:
“My pastor said later that I was confusing the will of God with the world of man… He said that every person makes choices in life, and every person is tested by this world, that the hand of God is there for those who know to reach for it.”

(Reprinted from July 1, 2014 blog post)

 

The Hunted – by Fred Stoeker and D.W. Smith (2006)

The Hunted

 

Many of us have a dream vacation that we talk about for years, but never actually do. In this novel, four college guys have been having pizza and football parties, and going on rafting expeditions for 15 years. They’ve been talking about the ultimate rafting trip for years, and finally arrange a white-water rafting expedition in an extremely remote part of Thailand.

The trip is a disaster from beginning to end. Nothing goes right, and the four-some ends up running for their lives. Each one of the guys is at a different place in their spiritual life, but each of them feels the presence of God as they go through this terrifying experience. The book contains just the right balance of action and thoughtful conversation, both with each other and with God.

Excerpt:
“My pastor said later that I was confusing the will of God with the world of man… He said that every person makes choices in life, and every person is tested by this world, that the hand of God is there for those who know to reach for it.”