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A Stranger's Gift: True Stories of Faith in Unexpected Places Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 3, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145161750X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451617504
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Tom Hallman, Jr.'s narratives give a graceful voice to the universal struggles everyday people face. He isn't one of those celebrity journalists, looking at the world from afar. He writes from the news trenches and touches readers with beautifully written pieces daily. Tom Hallman, Jr. is required reading in the narrative writing courses here at Stonehill College—along with Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, and Gay Talese. He is one of the best in the business.” (Maureen Boyle, Journalism Program Director, Stonehill College)

“Tom Hallman, Jr. is that rare and wonderful combination: a master storyteller and an elegant writer with a deeply perceptive heart. He has an uncanny ability to see the profound in the everyday and make you see it, too—in ways that will remind you of what’s really important in life. I defy you to read his work and not be moved, enlightened, and inspired.” (Bryan Smith, writer-at-large Chicago Magazine)

“Tom Hallman, Jr. is one of America’s foremost feature writers, one who knows how to judge—and tell—riveting stories. Above all, he understands that the most moving and insightful tales reveal the hearts, minds, and actions of real people who face wrenching challenges and eventually find redemption.” (Jame Sinkinson, publisher, Infocom Group)

“As an editor and a story scout for Reader's Digest, I've read the work of some very special writers. Tom Hallman heads the list. Through beautifully structured, easily accessible narratives, he draws readers into stories that touch the soul. This book, in which he explores individuals' journeys to faith, is moving, thought-provoking, and profound.” (Brian Summers, Reader’s Digest story scout)

"On the journey of faith we look for those storytellers who can give voice to our experiences of joy and sorrow, discovery and disappointment, questioning and hope in the presence of God, the Holy Mystery. I have read Tom Hallman’s human interest stories for over a decade. We are blessed to have a great storyteller like Tom as a companion and guide on this journey." (Rev. Dr. John Beck, PhD, pastor and adjunct seminary professor)

“Tom Hallman’s book is full of vivid stories and life experiences that challenge and inspire faith and hope in the most turbulent circumstances. Readers, for example, will learn of the inherent spiritual nature of law enforcement and the indispensible role of faith and prayer in the life of officers who have embraced the transformative power of the Spirit of God. In a vocation where it is thought that fact-based evidence truncates feelings, displaces faith, and modulates crises, we encounter the supremacy of spiritual transformation and triumph of goodness.” (Supervisory Special Agent Samuel L. Feemster (Ret.), FBI, Behavioral Science Unit)

"Chaplains have been comforting hurting people in the healthcare setting for almost 75 years. Faith is an integral component at the bedside as people deal with suffering and dying. At such times, people wrestle with whether God is sovereign in this journey or not. Either God is trustworthy or He is not. He is either present and caring as He promised or He is not. Tom Hallman, Jr.'s book takes readers into that world in a way that is thought provoking, intriguing, and enlightening." (Jeffrey R. Funk, Executive Director, Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association)

“During his career, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Tom Hallman fearlessly went inside a Hell’s Angels clubhouse, shook hands with two Presidents, rode with police on a high speed chase, interviewed inmates and gangsters, and even had a drink with a Mafia hit-man, but he was afraid to go into a church and face himself. At midlife he found himself, like Dante, 'in dark woods, the right road lost.' In A Stranger’s Gift he tells how he found the right road through encounters with men and women struggling with the same doubts, confusion, and losses he was experiencing. Their stories broke his heart open. They will open you up too. Tom was one of the finest writers I ever worked with at Reader’s Digest. Open this book and find out why.” (Gary Sledge, former Assistant Managing Editor Reader’s Digest)

“A Pulitzer-prize winning reporter, Tom Hallman has stood in the Chicago Bulls locker room alongside Michael Jordan, hung out backstage with Van Halen, even shaken hands with two presidents, but one day a man's vulnerable, passionate story in the church service Hallman was covering for a news story stirred something within. As odd as it was, Tom had a feeling deep down that the man's story was for him. Hallman took the stranger's gift and did what he did best: interviewed people, asked questions, listened, and sought to understand how their story—God's story—applied to him. On his journey from agnostic to believer, Hallman asked the questions we're often too afraid to ask, seeking out ordinary believers from all walks of life. As I read the pages, I walked with him, understood his questions, and thought about the people brought into my life to point me to Him. God uses people, their tears, their struggles, their joys, and their hopes to exhibit faith to others. I can't wait to share this book with my friends. It's one I want to pass around and talk about in hopes of opening up conversations of how faith meets us when we're least expecting to find it.” (Tricia Goyer, author of Blue Like Play: The Shape of Motherhood in the Grip of God) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Tom Hallman, Jr. is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his series of articles about a boy named Sam whose face was severely disfigured. Other stories by Hallman have appeared in Esquire, Men’s Health, Readers Digest, Writers Digest, and other magazines. He has won every major feature-writing award in the nation. Born and raised in Portland, Hallman graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1977. He now writes for The Oregorian in Portland.

More About the Author

I started my career in New York City right out of college. I was hired to work as a copy editor for a series of upscale home-decorating magazines. I had a fancy desk that looked out over the St. Regis Hotel, and I was so impressed with myself that on the masthead I had my name listed as Thomas B. Hallman Jr.

This was back in 1977 -- Son of Sam, the Blackout and Reggie Jackson hitting three home runs in the World Series. My first week there, I lost $20 in a three-card Monte scam played by Times Square hustlers.

I lived in an old hotel that was being converted into an apartment building. The place was filled with a strange mix of residents: Young people trying to make it in the city, old people being pushed out of the building by the owner, and artists and musicians, some on the way up, but more than a few on their way down.

I arrived in New York City with $750, a loan I had taken out at the credit union to use as an "emergency fund." I promptly set up a bachelor pad. I bought a stereo, a three piece sectional sofa that I hauled piece by piece up Broadway and a glass-topped coffee table.

And then I was fired.

I returned to my hometown -- Portland, Oregon -- with only the stereo and loan payments since I couldn't sell the furniture and had to leave it all behind. One day I spotted a classified ad placed by the editor of a small, Eastern Oregon weekly looking for a reporter. The interview took place at the local coffee shop. He was stunned that someone who had just been in New York City was interested in a job in Hermiston - known as Oregon's watermelon capital. He hired me on the spot.

I'm now a senior reporter at The Oregonian, where I've worked for 32 years. I've written numerous stories for Reader's Digest, and won every major feature writing award, some multiple times. I was twice a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

I've also worked at a car wash, a grocery store and a greyhound race track. I had a stint as a bartender for one week, and was once an answer to a question on the television show Jeopardy.

My wife and I have two daughters.

And, by the way, I still have the stereo I bought in New York City.

Visit me at www.tomhallman.com

Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
Tom is an incredibly gifted storyteller!
Stacy
Tom Hallman, Jr. takes you on a journey that will move you and bring you closer to God.
GMTA Publishing
I'll keep this book on my nightstand for a long time.
njp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By northbound on April 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I had this book on pre-order as I know of someone mentioned in the book. I was eager to read for those purposes alone but WOW, I got much more than I had hoped for. Mr. Hallman tells a story of his own journey BUT through his journey it's impossible not to explore our own. His writing brought me to a place of asking the questions of faith and what my purpose might be. Honestly, as beautifully as this book is about God (Faith, spirituality, purpose, an unmistakable truth) it is also a brilliant exposure to the rawness of simply being alive. Mr. Hallman is honest, in no way self-righteous, humble to a fault, and his words flow to share a story that I believe on some level exists in us all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stacy on April 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in just about two days. The stories are so captivating it is hard to put the book down. What I so appreciated about the book is that it not only brings you into engaging and emotional stories, but it wrestles with questions about faith we all have. The book does not give easy answers, but rather describes the real journeys and struggles that people face.

I found myself very strengthened in my faith by this book, and strongly recommend it for EVERYONE no matter where they are on the faith journey or if they have no faith at all.

Tom is an incredibly gifted storyteller!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By njp on April 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the kind of book you'll read through but will also want to go back through. A chapter at a time is good because then it gives you time to think.

Tom Hallman talks about faith through the eyes of a man struggling with his own faith. He asks a lot of questions but they are always open ended to cause you to think. There is no preaching in this book. Just different stories of different lives touched by God. And oh my, many of these people don't have easy lives!

I really, really like when Tom Hallman shares stories of his own life. He sounds so simple, ordinary.....human. But then you read more about him and there is no simple and ordinary......read the small print...lots to this man.

I'll keep this book on my nightstand for a long time. Very good read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Kendall VINE VOICE on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Back before I became a Christian in 2004, I only had a passing acquaintance with God. I knew He was there, but I really didn't have that much to say to Him. I blamed God for everything that was wrong in my life instead of calling on Him and establishing the relationship that has become such an important part of who I am. I was looking forward to reading Tom Hallman's memoir of his journey of faith because once upon a time he was an agnostic and now he is the love of our Savior. I love to read books like that because I have been there and I find that I get a lot from others who have been there.

A Stranger's Gift really took me by surprise. It was far more interesting than I was expecting, but more importantly, it was far more thought provoking and challenging than expected. I read this book as if it was a devotional. I read one chapter each day and I found myself looking forward to the chapter more and more. Tom has a lot of interesting experiences and wisdom to share and I came away from this book with a greater appreciation for my faith and a greater desire to share it with those who are the way I used to be. I highly recommend this book to believers and unbelievers alike. This book can really change a person's life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By christianfictionaddiction on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up this book, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Was I about to read a book that would hold my interest, or one that would just come across as preachy? Would I find myself able to relate to the people portrayed in it's pages? The answer to both questions is that Tom Hallman has written a book that is utterly engaging, sure to capture your attention from start to finish, and one that is filled with everyday people whose lives reflect the uncertainty and doubt and moments of discovery that we all experience. What I enjoyed most of all is that the author recognizes that God is perfectly fine with our doubts in life, doubts like those expressed by Jesus' disciple Thomas after he was raised from the dead, or doubts you and I struggle with when mired in difficult circumstances. Hallman perfectly captures the fact that we are on a journey, with "one step forward, two steps back". I was struck by Hallman's comment that "In the years to come, I hope that my children remember not what I did for a living, but how I lived". Reading this book will undoubtedly help us grow closer to that goal of living a life of worth and significance.

Crafted with skilled writing, and sure to entertain with inspirational stories while also making you ponder your own faith journey, A Stranger's Gift is a treasure indeed. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

A copy of the book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
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By socket on March 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This well crafted book is by a writer for the Portland Oregonian. He takes you on a spiritual journey and gives you much to think about.
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