Friday, August 29, 2014

Life Expectancy

I just finished a very fun book called Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. If you have read any of his Odd Thomas series, you will likely feel a bit of deja vu with regard to the inner voice, mannerisms, and reactions of the story's lead character, Jimmy Tock. In fact, Jimmy Tock and Odd Thomas are very much kindred spirits in how they react to adversity, to bad breaks, and to the threats life throws at them. However, those similarities did not detract from my enjoyment of this amusing and touching story.

The story begins in August 1974 when Rudy Tock is at the hospital torn between the ending of one life and the dawn of another. Rudy's father Josef has had a stroke that has left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak. He likely only has a few hours left on this Earth. In a different part of the hospital, Rudy's wife Maddy has been admitted to give birth to their first child. When Rudy goes to say goodbye to his father, Josef sits up in bed and with a strong and clear voice tells Rudy to write down five terrible dates that his grandson will have to endure. September 15, 1994, January 19, 1998, December 23, 2002, November 26, 2003, and April 16, 2005. Josef them provides a few facts to make clear the truth of his prophesy before he drops dead. Back in the expectant father's waiting room, Rudy is processing the passing of his father, the progress of the labor of his wife, and a seemingly deranged circus clown by the name of Beezo whose wife is also delivering that night in the hospital. When the doctor comes out to tell Beezo that his wife died during labor, Beezo loses control and kills the doctor and a nurse before grabbing his newborn son and taking off into the night.

The story then takes us through the life of Jimmy Tock as he grows up and faces the five terrible dates that his grandfather Josef had called out. Each date brings terrible suffering and trials into Jimmy's life and that of his family. However, the wonderful charm of this tale is how living through these horrific events only serves to bring life to Jimmy and his family. More laughter, more love, more enjoyment and strength in those he treasures. This was a very touching, quirky, amusing, and endearing story. Highly recommended.