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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Reluctant "Thumbs Down"
on June 10, 2007
I begin with three "although's":
Although I realize many people enjoy Og Mandino's works (I myself have enjoyed his short stories in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books), and
although there may be something helpful here for a reader searching for a message of hope (mostly limited to a short "speech" near the end of the story), AND
although the story itself was entertaining and surprising, I was ultimately disappointed in the end.
For those searching for hope, Mandino's book "A Better Way to Live" might prove more helpful. (However, for a full serving of honest hope, I much more strongly recommend something like Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace," Fred Rogers' "You Are Special" or "The World According to Mister Rogers," or nearly any fictional work by Madeleine L'Engle.)
For the rest of you seeking for just some solid spiritual nourishment, this book comes up short.
(By the way, a reviewer should state WHY a book is good or bad; as I write this, only one or two others in this Amazon forum have done so, and only one in any detail. And I find it suspicious that two who do recommend this book are also plugging their own books along with Mandino's.)
"The Choice" is apparently about Og Mandino himself; the main character (Mark Christopher) is writing his first book, "A Better Way to Live," which is Mandino's own first book; furthermore, the main character's mother died while making the author a tunafish sandwich, which is Og's own history as well. Whether or not the story in "The Choice" is intended to be an accurate account of how Mandino wrote "A Better Way," it is obvious that he intends for the reader to identify Mark Christopher with himself.
Given that, the main story is ultimately about what a wonderful person the author of "A Better Way to Live" is. Oh, sure, there is a speech of hope at the end -- slightly over 11 pages (in the paperback edition) that may stir you to find a better way -- but 11 out of 162 pages is probably fewer than you are looking for.
At the end of the book, he writes that Heaven finds his (the author's) words so stirring, that he is granted a longer life to "share, unselfishly," his way to a better life(!).
Okay, let's give Og Mandino the benefit of the doubt: let's imagine Heaven really did grant him that favor.
How is a story which (1) uses the vast majority of the pages to show what a wonderful man the author is, but (2) only a fraction of the book to discuss his ways to a better life, "unselfishly" helping others?
Let me be clear: I do understand that Og Mandino's writings have honestly helped many people, and I do not disagree with that assessment. However, if the eleven-page speech in "The Choice" was fleshed out to become the main message, this book would prove much more worthy of the descriptions on its front and back covers. As it stands, I cannot recommend it.
So what are you waiting for? Check out Mandino's "A Better Way to Live" instead -- and don't forget the works of Philip Yancey, Fred Rogers, and Madeleine L'Engle!