Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

mitch_albomTuesdays with Morrie is a memoir by American writer Mitch Albom.   The story was later recreated by Thomas Rickman into a TV movie of the same name directed by Mick Jackson.  This starred Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria.   Mitchell David “Mitch” Albom is an American best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, radio, television broadcaster and musician.  His books have sold over 35 million copies worldwide.  Another is reviewed on this site:  https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/the-five-peopl…by-mitch-albom/.  I really enjoy Mitch Albom’s style of writing. Tuesdays With Morrie is a biography of one of his college Professors. Other biographies and auto-biographies on this site include: As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/as-far-as-my-f…-james-m-bauer/, Wasted https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/wasted-by-mark-johnson/, Humble Pie https://bookreviewstoday.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/humble-pie-by-gordon-ramsay/.

Most people have had an older person they looked up to, whether that was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and gave you sound advice to help you make your way. For the author, that person was Morrie Schwartz.  Morrie was his college professor from nearly twenty years before the story is set.  Mitch Albom rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life.   Mitch knew Morrie was dying of ALS  (motor neurone disease) so he visited his mentor in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to when Mitch was studying at Brandeis University.  This  is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, 9 miles west of Boston, USA.  Mitch and Morrie rekindled their relationship and their meetings turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live.  The result, Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical read.

Wisdom grows with age.   However, the development of wisdom also accelerates when mortality becomes clear.   Morrie was a professor of sociology at Brandeis University; he dedicated his life to the study of individuals’ actions in their respective societies and together he and Mitch Albom wrote his final paper: a study of his life in his society.

The framework for Albom and Morrie’s message of love and returning to what’s important is archetypal in world literature.   The Bible, Koran and other religious books trumpet the theme that the relationships of familial love end up giving you ultimate joy in the end.  Literary fiction should not tell the reader outright there is a lesson to be tuesdayslearned.  In this book, the message is one of those direct ones: surround yourself with loved ones and know what is important, and do not get too caught with money and business.

Some feel that Tuesdays with Morrie seems like some kind of self help book.  They feel that the book is not exciting enough.  I feel that it does not need to exciting.  it is full of emotion and truth.   Albom contrasts the friction between Mitch’s business life in Detroit and his life at Brandeis. The beauty about this inherent conflict is that most readers can identify with it.  There is an allure to making all that money and living it up as opposed to living with less money but being happier.  It is a dynamic and relevant story and teaches more than Albom’s classroom environment.

Some of Morrie’s lessons are, however,  inconsistent.  The reader must put aside what Albom heralded at the beginning of the encounter.   For example, Morrie was adamant at the beginning of the novel that he was not embarrassed about his humanity; he lived his own life without thinking about his stature, power or wealth.   He went on to claim that one should never worry about what other people thought about him.   However, later in the book, after his ALS progressed, he complained about being embarrassed about how degenerate his body had become.   He stopped letting visitors be with him much and identified that his biggest thorn was that the nurse had to help him with his intimate needs in the bathroom.  These inconsistencies might confuse the reader but I think it shows how Morrie’s views changed as his condition deteriorated.   Morrie progressed and realized his humanity.

Albom has grown as an author he digs into the characters and conflicts.  The criticality of Tuesdays With Morrie stems from Albom’s desire that his audience and I think we can all learn from this book.

Valerie Penny



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