Saturday, February 17, 2024

Review: The Rocking Chair Prophet by Matthew Kelly

by Matthew Kelly
Release Date: August 15, 2023
2023 Blue Sparrow
Hardcopy ARC: 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-1635822083
Audiobook: B0C94ZH8NH
Genre: Fiction / Philosophical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

After an unspeakable tragedy devastates his life, Daniel, a thirty-three-year-old suburban man, disappears into the mountains. Years later, he reemerges filled with uncommon wisdom and other extraordinary gifts.

From that day on, people travel from far and wide to meet with Daniel, who sits on his rocking chair, meeting with visitors, and helping them explore their deeply personal questions. These questions lead to a series of epic conversations that traverse life’s quintessential topics: love, suffering, health and well-being, education, work, money and things, spirituality, regrets, depression, ambition, nature, parenting, midlife crisis, choices, our hopes and dreams, the meaning of life, and enduring friendship.
My Thoughts
The Rocking Chair Prophet is one of those books from which I have to analyze from two completely different perspectives: one, the fictional side, and two, the spiritual side. As a novel, it was relatively weak without much of a story line.  As far as philosophical truths went, this one did resonate with me on many levels, but on a superficial level.  Had it gone deeper, I would have given it a different rating.

First of all, the actually story line did not have a lot of substance to it.  We have this young man losing his entire family very tragically, who enters the forest to heal his soul, returns some years later only to become this wise prophet dispensing truths and helping people with their lives.  The character development was rather non-existent and the secondary characters all blended into one another, with little development.  Many of them miraculously transformed their lives because of Daniel's wisdom, but while i agree on how simplistic it can actually be, realistically, most people, with mortgages and bills to pay, can not simply do this.  I know the author tried hard to add humour to the story by adding some anecdotes to when the boys were small and some of the trouble they got up to, it didn't really add much to the relationships as adults as those relationships are different.  I would have liked to have seen more dialogue and development to build up those relationships and to really get a sense of who Daniel and the others were.

Despite the story flaws, there were a lot of great concepts in this book.  I definitely resonated with some of them and feel that we are dealing with a world-wide identity crisis at the moment, but would have liked to have seen these concepts be more developed as they seem to be written for young people just learning philosophical thoughts or for adults who have never dabbled in philosophy.  For someone like myself, this was too simplistic for me.  That being said, the overall message and Daniel's journey are worthwhile and will give you pause for thought, make you think about your own life and how you live it every day, and the relationships you have with others.

The Rocking Chair Prophet is a good book for those who are new to philosophy and/or spirituality, and are looking to explore their own life and the choices they have made.  It is definitely on the lighter side however, so if you are looking for something more profound, this isn't for you.  The writing is easy to understand and the author has this ability to take complicated concepts and write them in a way that makes sense, unlike more famous philosophers.  I would take a look at this author's non-fiction work as I think those are quite a bit better developed, both in ideas and concepts, than this book. 



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