Tuesday, January 3, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Tuesday's With Morrie

Author: Mitch Albom
Star Rating: *****

I actually wrote an essay on this book for a class and even though the quality of the essay is poor, here it is.

The book, “Tuesday’s with Morrie”, is about a young man who learns valuable life lessons from his old, dying professor from college. Morrie Schwartz, the professor, is dying from a disease called ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The story in the book illustrates the slow passing of the beloved man and also teaches good life lessons that are valuable for all of us to learn. I enjoyed reading this book not only because I learned a little more about the said disease but also because I loved the lessons and teachings Morrie taught in his “Last Class.” 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal chord that control voluntary muscle movement. The nerve cells waste away or die, so they can’t send messages to the muscles anymore. This leads to the muscles getting weaker and weaker until there is no way to even control them anymore. The condition gets worse very slowly and the process is usually very painful for the infected to deal with. The most dangerous event in the ALS process is when the chest areas stops working and it becomes really hard or even impossible to breath on one’s own. I really like the way the book describes the disease because it gives great imagery into the painful process, the books reads: “ALS is like a lit candle: it melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of was. Often, it begins with the legs and works its way up, you lose control of your thigh muscles, so that you cannot support yourself standing. You lose control of your trunk muscles, so that you cannot sit up straight. By the end, if you are still alive, you are breathing through a tube in a hole in your throat, while your soul, perfectly awake, is imprisoned inside a limp husk, perhaps able to blink, or click a tongue, like something from a science fiction movie, the man frozen inside his own flesh. This takes no more than five years from the day you contract the disease.” Even though reading this passage is slightly depressing, I love the way the author uses imagery to help the reader discover for themselves a little glimpse of what ALS is like.   
Throughout the whole book, you see Morrie gradually getting weaker and weaker but the main point of the book is to see that he is rather content throughout the whole period of his sickness. Instead of filling himself with self pity and wallowing or giving up because he is going to die anyway, he surrounds himself with loved ones, and talks with them and teaches them the knowledge that he has acquired throughout his years. Thought Morrie is still quite young to be dying, he has lived a full life and had great effects on all of the lives around him. In the book it says: “ [Morrie] told his friends that if they really wanted to help him, they would treat him not with sympathy but with visits, phone calls, a sharing of their problems-the way they had always shared their problems, because Morrie had always been a wonderful listener. For all that was happening to him, his voice was strong and inviting, and his mind was vibrating with a million thoughts. he was intent on proving that the word “dying” was not synonymous with “useless.” It amazes me how someone that is going through all the pain and hardship that comes with this disease could be so loving and reach out to those around him. I think that it is such an amazing example to those of us who complain about everything our whole lives and don’t show as much love for those around us when we are perfectly healthy and have a whole life ahead of us to share. 
I really like the section where Morrie talks about how everyone walks arond living meaningless lives, one of my favorite quotes is: “ So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” I love this idea that he presents about devoting yourself to loving others and devoting yourself to creating something that gives purpose and meaning to your life. This is one of the best lessons that he teaches in the book, and it is even the base of all his other lessons. 
As Morrie’s condition gets worse and worse his body gets more weak and he gets more “shriveled up.” This is the point where most people would start to push others away to prevent them from being exposed to their dying body but Morrie just pulls people even closer. When infected with ALS, you lose control of your muscles but you can still feel pain in all of your muscles, this would be one of the worst feelings in the world, not being able to move around when you are in so much pain. His pain is comforted when someone rubs his legs with lotion. This gives us another look into what ALS is like.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way Morrie, the main character, handles his disease so well. I enjoyed learning more about ALS but I also enjoyed learning all of the great life lessons that Morrie had to teach. I think that one of the best parts of this book is the fact that it is nonfiction. Which makes everything much more real and it makes you want to read the book more because there was actually a person named Morrie who was this great amazing man, and he isn’t just a made up character designed to teach us all a lesson, he actually thought all of these lessons and was a real person which for me, is the best part of the book.  

Ignore spelling mistakes.
I recommend this book if you enjoy books about medical illnesses. I also recommend it to those who are doing soul searching or in general just like to read about life lessons. It is a short and easy read, I read it in a couple hours.

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