TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Mitch Albom is the Detroit-based sports reporter famous for his two hugely bestselling books, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and "Tuesdays with Morrie." Since both these titles are staples of high school reading lists everywhere, I figure some teens will check out Albom's latest non-fiction work, "Have a Little Faith."
True to its title, in this book Albom explores questions of faith. When Albom's lifelong NJ-based rabbi, affectionately dubbed "The Reb," asks him to write his eulogy when the time comes, Albom is floored. The Reb was a towering figure of Albom's youth and a fixture in his rare temple visits back in NJ, but, beyond that, the two had no relationship. Albom agrees, and over the course of the next six years, he makes regular visits to the Reb when he's in the NY area. Although initially designed to provide material for the eulogy, the visits quickly become larger discussions of life, religion, family, love, marriage, forgiveness, and, of course, God.
In recounting lessons learned from the Reb — a feisty, goodhearted man who often breaks into song — Albom also relates the story of Pastor Henry Covington. Henry, a recovered drug addict, former dealer, and convicted felon, is the leader of the I Am My Brother's Keeper Church in downtown Detroit. He oversees a small congregation in his gritty neighborhood, providing food and shelter to the homeless and compassion to worshipers who have been badly battered by life. Henry's church has little money, few congregants, and a gaping hole in the roof, but he still manages to do God's work and help people transform their lives. As with the Reb, Albom begins visiting Henry for a specific purpose — here, to consider making a donation from his homeless foundation — only to develop a much deeper relationship.
"Have a Little Faith" is another "small but mighty" book from this well-liked author. It's written in a folksy, conversational manner, meaning teens should gobble up the short chapters and gently imparted lessons. Although there's nothing earth shattering here, the book invites readers to examine their own faith and ponder the questions Albom poses to the Reb and Pastor Henry. It's also a nice character study of these two figures, as Albom does a lovely job in presenting the complexities of the Reb and Henry. Both come across as lively, real men whose very real heartbreaks and fears cannot shake their respective faith. As such, the book serves as a touching tribute to the Reb and a nice reminder for all of us about the role of faith in our lives.
PS – I listened to the audio book of "Have a Little Faith," which is narrated by a very capable Mitch Albom himself. Well done!