This kind and generous book is a mini version of The Five People You Meet in Heaven for revisiting your life to develop another perspective on it. In this case, Charley Benetto comes to see his mother through different eyes. A self-sacrificing woman, Pauline (Posey), had shielded Charley from all of the challenges their little family had faced. All that Charley knew was that his beloved Dad had moved out when Charley was young and didn't reappear in his life until his college years.
The set-up is pretty extreme. Charley goes to pieces after his mother dies. He drinks too much. He loses his money. He drives away his wife and daughter. He loses all his desire to live. Hitting bottom, Charley decides to kill himself. He heads back towards his old home town . . . and finds many surprises . . . including another day with his deceased mother.
The core of the book's appeal is the deft way that Mr. Albom captures the ambiguity many sons have towards the support they receive from their Mothers, while the Mothers are acting like the saints they often are. A good secondary appeal is the gradual exposure of deeply buried family secrets.
It's that latter point that I would like to address a little more. Families keep secrets from children for all kinds of good reasons. But children do become adults, and somewhere along the way the relationships will be improved if the secrets are revealed. You cannot hope to believe in Santa Claus all of your life in the same way you did as a five-year-old. If your parents are still alive (and I hope they will be for many years to come), think about what you don't understand about what they did when you were young. Ask them to tell you the answers. You'll all grow closer in the process.
Having found myself saying the eulogy over my father's coffin after an unexpected death, I also encourage you to be sure that you would feel at peace with yourself if your parents died today. If you wouldn't feel that way, take steps to improve that situation now. You can't be sure you'll be given a second chance like Charlie was.
Mr. Albom's book is a quick and pleasant read. He's a good story teller. But don't expect a book that's nearly as good as The Five People You Meet in Heaven. For One More Day is well below that standard in concept and execution. But it's a book that's well worth reading . . . even if it only makes you more sensitive to your Mother's needs.