Thursday, March 17, 2011
Book Review: The Seventeen Second Miracle
I'm always up for a book about miracles or something to bring hope and encouragement into my life. The title on this audio book, The Seventeen Second Miracle, literally jumped out at me. Then I noticed that it was written by Jason F. Wright, the author of The Wednesday Letters, a book I read and reviewed two years ago.
It is a wonderful gift to be able to write books that encourage others to live better, recognize life's blessings and make a difference in their world. I do believe Jason Wright has that gift. I also believe he is still refining his story-telling abilities.
I don't want to say that this isn't a great book, because in many ways it is. But, the simple lesson of this story seemed to be drawn out into something far bigger than it warranted. Thus, while listening, I found myself thinking, "All right, already! I get the idea of the seventeen second miracle. Get to the point of how it impacts the characters' lives."
The story begins with a teenager, Rex Conner, working as a lifeguard on a small lake in Virginia. He falls in love with a beautiful girl, whom he nicknames "Sparks" and dubs her younger, imitating sister, "Flick." His life is forever altered by the seventeen seconds when his attention is diverted from the task at hand.
In many situations, tragedy destroys a life. Guilt cripples. Everything unravels. It made me think of similar situations I've read of: a high school teacher near our old home in Illinois, who accidentally failed to drop his infant daughter off at the sitter's house and left her in the car all day; a parent who set the car seat down at the back of their car, strapped their toddler into a car seat within the car and, in a split-second of absent-mindedness, ran over the baby. How does a parent live with the guilt that one moment of failure can create?
In this book, Rex sinks into depression until one random act of kindness reminds him of the power of a moment. Just as failure can reap unexpected tragedy, he learns that intentional living can reap unexpected blessing. He is so changed by the redemption offered in moments of grace that he begins to change his life one seventeen second miracle at a time.
Rex's son, Cole Conner, attempts to pass this legacy on to others as he presents the lesson in a series of classes offered to certain selected high school students. The three students attending his class end up being the heart of the story. Their lives are ripe for instruction, but at times the simple lesson was hammered a bit too rigorously. I believe that a story told well will present a message automatically, without need for over-emphasis.
The lesson itself is valuable and one that, does indeed, bring new life to those who suffer in the face of unbearable tragedy. It made me think of Coleman Larson's family. To this day, two years since he passed away, they continue to seize little opportunities to spread love and compassion in his name. They even have little cards made up to clarify that the act of kindness was done in memory of their beloved son, Coleman.
I found myself recognizing opportunities for seventeen second miracles as well. This week, as I loaded my groceries onto the conveyor belt at Aldi, a woman stood waiting for a cashier to return to the register so she could get change and secure a quarter for the carts. I reached into my pocket and handed her a quarter from my own pocket. An uncomplicated gesture. A seventeen second miracle. So simple that one could easily make it a way of life!