Review

PUBLICATION DATE: MAY 4, 2011

A

s a music producer, Tyler Harrison worked with famous artists and experienced the ups and downs of professional life in the industry.  His personal life, though, seemed to be in constant descent.  His father’s health was in rapid decline, but considering the years of anger and bitterness Tyler harbored against him, he struggled to even visit him.  His marriage ended after only six short years and is a source of pain and regret.  The only woman he’s loved since then is Laila, but she unexpected left him.  His money from a hit album had run out and even though he was working with two artists (one a heavy drug user who continued to disappear and the other he can’t please her music label), the prospect of income was dwindling.  With friends that are more like acquaintances and a habit of excessive drinking, it was hard to imagine his life could be worse, but when he started having horrific hallucinations, all his fears, anger, hurts, regrets, and confusion soon became overwhelming.  Hastening his downward spiral is an angel, Matthew, who tells him he has nine months to live.—on Tyler’s fortieth birthday he will die.  In an interesting, deep book, the first half of 40 is random and scattered, but the second is brilliantly intense and spectacular.

I absolutely adored Thrasher’s book last year, Broken.  The writing was fantastic and the mood superb.  It is one of my favorites and one of the few books I’ll read again.  So, needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on 40.

Early on, I was a little concerned about this book though.  While it had a nice feel, I struggled to really get into it.  Part of it was the music aspect.  I tend not to listen to the groups and styles of music that are mentioned.  About the only songs I recognized were by Pink Floyd.  While I like the concept, it simply didn’t work for me when I couldn’t grasp the comparisons or place song names or artists sounds.  For those that have wider musical knowledge, the first half might not be as slow.

I always give big points for creativity and artistic flare and this book has both.  The mood was dead on perfect, even in the early parts where I serious questioned if Tyler was experiencing a drug induced stupor.  However, the heart of this novel is the emotional ups and downs combined with theological and philosophical questions.  It was easy to understand the depths of Tyler’s struggles with regret and anger.  I love how he was presented as a broken soul knowing what he should do, but stubborn enough to fight it even facing death.  It’s the all familiar struggle between good and evil, heavenly influences and demonic suggestions.  This was beautifully portrayed and the approach fantastic.

While it would be awesome to get into the specific issues and questions that are presented in this book, I’ll refrain, since many are best left for the reader to discover.  The beginning idea, that knowing the date and time of one’s death is a gift, is just the tip of the iceberg in exploring deeper aspects of life and faith.  Even though it took quite a while for this book to start clicking, the last half more than made up for the shaky start.  It’s artistic, original, dark, and not for the faint of heart, but for those who long for a book that will get them thinking and are not afraid to dig into their own life, this is a great choice.