Erickson's treacly debut novel aims to follow Waller and Sparks in the realm of the sentimental bestseller, but this story of a young man and an older mentor seems clearly derivative of Tuesdays with Morrie. Josh Bell, 17, lives in Mobile Bay, Ala., with his divorced mother, who supplements the meager salary from her job at a discount store by cooking for Meals-On-Wheels. Josh helps her by delivering the food to the sick or elderly, and one evening the client is octogenarian William Davis, who is crippled from arthritis. Soon Davis hires Josh to record the lifetime of thoughtful stories he has accumulated in his memory. The didactic tales that Davis relates, each usually ending with a blunt, reductive moral lesson, begin to inspire Josh in his own life. Josh is intrigued by such truisms as "Life is a mystery" or "Never confuse knowledge with wisdom," but when Davis insists that Josh follow his dream of being a writer, Josh is afraid to confront his ambitions. Nevertheless, their friendship grows, especially as Josh is estranged from his father and Davis is alienated from his own son. Davis becomes an obvious father figure, instilling in his young prot?g? a healthy respect for the past and for literature. Na?ve Josh is unconvincing as a troubled, contemporary teen, seeming more like a responsible, even-tempered 10-year-old. Still, Erickson's unfaltering message of redemption likely will move those who take Davis and his spunky, "love-life" attitude to heart. (May) FYI: Erickson originally wrote this story as a high school graduation gift for his son.
I did not care for this book's pedantic style.