40: A Novel
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (7/11)
What would you do if you knew exactly when you were going to die? Would you continue living as you have or would you do things to bring some closure to past relationships? This is the predicament that Tyler Harrison faces when his guardian angel informs him that his life will end on his 40th birthday, which will occur in approximately eight months. As Tyler struggles with this news, other forces are at work attempting to influence his behaviors.
“40” is an excellent book. It contains some aspects of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but it is much darker. Author Travis Thrasher has a unique way of telling a story. The sentence structure he uses, as well as the vivid descriptions of scenes, immediately drew me in and kept my attention throughout the book. He also does a great job of giving out just enough information to intrigue the reader without revealing the intricate details until exactly the right time. Another source of interest is the variety of characters. Some are mysterious and some are symbolic, but all of them play major roles in the telling of the story.
Music and religion are central themes throughout this book. As a music producer, Tyler is always looking to make the next great album. His connection with music seems to define several key relationships in his life–those with his father, his ex-wife, and himself. Tyler’s father was a preacher whose sermons often focused on Heaven and Hell. Now, as an adult Tyler must put some thought into what he really believes about the afterlife. While much of the story involves religious references, I do not feel that the author attempts to force his religious beliefs on the reader. Instead, the reader is challenged to think about his or her faith in new and deeper ways.
The target audience of “40” is adult men and women. It will probably resonate most with middle-aged individuals because they have had many opportunities to regret past decisions but still presumably have enough time left to correct them. The story is thought-provoking and fresh. While some may consider the way the book ends to be controversial, I like how the author chose to depict it.