I have been known to buy a CD or book based on the cover design and more often than not, I end up being pleasantly surprised at my impromptu purchase. Andy Andrews’ The Noticer is one of those. I didn’t know about Andy Andrews and his New York Times best-selling book The Traveler’s Gift when I bought the book at Word Bookstore. I ummed and erred before I decided to buy it because I really didn’t like sacchariney and preachy books. So now that I’ve finished the book, what do I think of it, you ask?
I like it – it has a similar tone to Mitch Albom’s book that infuses life lessons within the story. However, unlike Albom, Andrews is not afraid to mention God in the book. Although it can be considered as a Christian book, the book should also appeal to non-Christians as there are no forced references about God or the Bible. The story is about a man named Jones (“No ‘Mr.,'” “Just Jones.”), a ‘noticer’ who strangely appears whenever a resident of Gulf Shores / Orange Beach in Alabama faces a major life challenge. He looks old and yet ageless through the years – with his battered suitcase, he visits people who are in need and offer them a pair of sympathetic ears and a large dose of wisdom. Through the issues faced by different people in the book, we learn more about perspectives and about lessons in life.
There are so many snippets of wisdom that I can write here and one of my favourites is:
“Most folks figure a true friend is someone who accepts them as they are. But that’s dangerous garbage to believe. The kid who works the drive-through at your local fast-food restaurant accepts you for who you are – because he doesn’t care anything about you. But a true friend holds you to a higher standard. A true friend brings out the best in you. A best friend will tell you the truth … and a wise best friend will include a healthy dose of perspective.”
The book itself is a very easy book to read that you can finish in one sitting if you like – it flows very smoothly from one chapter to the next and you do learn a lot from what Jones teaches to the characters without them sounding too preachy or contrived. I find the questions asked by the characters are as natural as my own questions if I were engaged in such a surreal conversation with him. Apparently Andrews models “Jones” from a real character that he met when he faced some challenges earlier on in his life.
I do find the ending a bit abrupt – I would’ve liked it if it were handled more gradually and delicately. At the end, my own interpretation of the Jones character is that we are called to be the Joneses wherever we are, to be noticers and be there when somebody around us need a shoulder to cry on, or just a pair of ears. We need to be a friend to people around us and give them a good dose of perspective. If you love Mitch Albom’s books, you will also love The Noticer.