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Book jacket image from goodreads.com

What if our beliefs were not what divided us, but what pulled us together?

In Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom offers a beautifully written story of a remarkable eight-year journey between two worlds – two men, two faiths, two communities – that will inspire readers everywhere.

Albom’s first nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie, Have a Little Faith begins with an unusual request: an eighty-two-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy.

Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into a world of faith he’d left years ago. Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor – a reformed drug dealer and convict – who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof.

Moving between their worlds, Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and well-to-do, Albom observes how these very different men employ faith similarly in fighting for survival: the older, suburban rabbi embracing it as death approaches; the younger, inner-city pastor relying on it to keep himself and his church afloat.

As America struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Albom and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; intermarriage; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times. Although the texts, prayers, and histories are different, Albom begins to recognize a striking unity between the two worlds – and indeed, between beliefs everywhere.

In the end, as the rabbi nears death and a harsh winter threatens the pastor’s wobbly church, Albom sadly fulfills the rabbi’s last request and writes the eulogy. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself.

Have a Little Faith is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story.

(Story summary from book jacket of Hyperion 2009 edition)

There are always those writers, speakers, singers who manage to draw you in to their message no matter what it might be. For me, one of those people is Mitch Albom. Consistently, Albom manages to simply draw me into his stories and speak directly to my heart and my mind. I have read a few others of Albom’s books and Have a Little Faith was no different from the others.

To be quite honest, I had not even heard of this one of Albom’s novels. I did not know what I was missing out on by not reading Have a Little Faith. It was because of one of my senior students that I was even aware of this novel. …To give a little bit of background, last year I taught my junior English classes Tuesdays with Morrie. Amazingly, all of my students really enjoyed reading this novel and they were moved by the story that Albom told with it. Apparently though, there was one student who was moved more than some of the others because this year she has made it her mission to read all of Albom’s books for her independent reading novels. I’m not sure if this particular student is so interested because she is so wise beyond her years with the experiences she has already had, but regardless of that, it is always an amazing experience to connect with a student on a different level and to be able to discuss similar interests in books.

I must commend her for her great recommendation. I simply could not put this book down as is often the case with a good book. What I always find amazing about Albom’s writing style is how he can take such a deep and thoughtful topic and make it seems so simple.

That became apparent once again in Have a Little Faith. If we think about that one word from the title “faith,” it is usually a word that as a society we tend to shy away from. Albom states this throughout his book…that as a society, we tend to not discuss faith or get into faith-based discussions – especially when there are differing views and beliefs. What Albom manages to do is make it obvious that this should not be the norm when it comes to our everyday lives as he is taught through his interactions with his Rabbi, Albert Lewis, and the pastor near in his Detroit home, Henry Covington.

The lessons that Mitch learns as he takes a journey with these two men are so complex and yet so simple, that words seem to fail me if I try to correctly convey these lessons. All I can simply say is that everyone, and yes – I mean absolutely everyone, should find a copy of Have a Little Faith as soon as possible and read it. I think the fact that we are so close to the holidays that these lessons might hit home a little bit more with people as we think about what traditions and family mean to us.

Even though I have decided that to be a teacher is what I was meant to do…it is apparent that I am never done learning. I thank this student (you know who you are) for sharing this book with me and teaching me something new.