PUBLICATION DATE: MAY 1, 2012
uke Harrison has spent the last five years caring for his ailing wife. Still in their twenties, their life together had just begun when Arianna got the devastating news that she has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Ari is the love of his life and Luke devotes himself fully to caring for her. However, when Death comes, it doesn’t matter if he’s the sole caretaker for his ailing wife. Before Death can take him though, Luke is visited by Thomas Constant (time personified) and given the option to relieve any seven hours of his life or have his life extended by seven hours. Believing that he needs to make sure Ari is well provided for, he chooses the seven more hours. Even more important than providing for Ari though, Luke must make a decision about his eternal destination—for Constant gives Luke a glimpse of his eternal future and it’s not pleasant. In a somewhat sad tale which examines the shattered dreams caused by tragedy, All of Our Dreams is an endearing love story that reminds the reader that time should never be taken for granted.
Ever since I heard about the 7 Hours series, I’ve been very curious to read James Andrew Wilson’s contribution. After all, he is the mastermind behind this project. In my NetGalley copy, this book was the sixth, so by the time I got to it, I had read five other interpretations of Constant’s character. It was interesting to read the creator’s take on Thomas Constant. In some ways Wilson is gentler to this enigmatic personality, but in other ways he’s seen for the cruel master he often feels like. But as with all the novellas in this series, Constant is open to interpretation which is truly in the eye of the beholder.
While I enjoyed the storyline for All of Our Dreams, the formatting for this book was messed up in the conversion to the Kindle format. There is truly nothing the author can do when this happens, but the poor formatting definitely hindered my reading experience. Instead of consistent chapter breaks, most times the chapter numbers were missing and the last paragraph of the previous chapter was immediately followed by the first paragraph in the next chapter. Since the chapters frequently alternate between scene from Luke and Ari’s past and the present, I was constantly jerked from the story. As a result, things that might not have bother me as much if I were fully immersed in the story stood out.
This is a sweet story of enduring love, but I am not a huge fan of Luke or Ari. Both feel fake—Luke too good to be true and Ari very reactionary. I don’t care for either of them, though I truly admire their dedication to each other. However, I love the storyline, especially in regards to the shattered dreams caused by Ari’s illness. It is very touching and an effective caution against longing for a future that can never be.
I’m not a huge fan of object/illustrated lessons in fiction. I’m having a hard time remembering a book that effectively executed a character giving an object lesson to another character and it not irritating me. These scenes feel forced to me, so even if the illustration is perfect and dead on, it just bothers me when they’re in a fictional story. So while I think the spiritual message in All of our Dreams is excellent, I wish it would have been presented differently.
Wilson explores some great themes. I totally agree that too often we take time for granted all the while harboring resentment against God for those things that we cannot change. I also like that Luke gets a glimpse of his eternal future and has the opportunity to evaluate if his theory that being good is good enough.
Overall I enjoyed All of Our Dreams. While I struggled a bit with the characters the story makes up for their shortfall. I love this series as a whole and am definitely impressed with Wilson’s imagination. I very much look forward to reading more of his work.