The Noticer by Andy Andrews is a fictional story about a man named Jones that provides some perspective to the people that he comes into contact with throughout the book. The book is comprised of several stories of people whom Jones helps. I’ll tell it like it is right off the bat…this book, for the most part, stunk. I cannot comprehend how it has a 4.17 rating on Goodreads. The language was middle-school level at best. To say that it was predictable is an understatement. Jones is invasive, creepy and sometimes even downright rude. His perspective is hardly boast-worthy. The narrator of the book, Andy, spends his entire adult life waiting for the next encounter with Jones. I can hardly even understand why when their initial encounter was barely noteworthy. They only exchanged a couple of words and then Jones made some book recommendations.
The author seems to have taken a lot of creative liberties by gleaning several concepts from notable authors or philosophers. None of Jones’s ideas or perspectives seem at all novel. It’s just rehashed philosophical mumbo-jumbo. The most incredulous aspect of the story is that every single character in the book seems completely comfortable with the fact that this creepy old man doesn’t even ask permission to enter their houses in the middle of the night, cars stopped at a red light or invites himself to sit down at a private lunch date between a married couple. Furthermore, he refers to himself as that person’s “best friend” even though they’ve just met and no one objects to his audacity.
The book was weird. The protagonist made me uncomfortable. The predictability of each story made the book seem endless, trite and banal. The narrator was foolish. Why did he spend so much time waiting to run into the protagonist??? I don’t get it. It’s not like he ever engaged in normal conversation or offered any real comfort, friendship or insight. It took me awhile to get through this book; mostly because it bored me. I couldn’t seem to read more than a couple of pages at a time.
BUT I will say this…there was a story halfway through the book about a woman in her seventies who had lost her husband and one of her children in his late forties. She felt that she had lived her life to the fullest and was now essentially sitting and waiting around for the good Lord to take her. She had decided she was done. Jones showed up at her favorite bench on a pier which her late husband had built for her. Long story short…Jones tells the woman that it is not up to her to decide when her life has concluded and that as long as she continues to successfully inhale oxygen into her lungs every morning without the help of a machine and is able to get out of bed and keep going, then it is her duty to grant God’s wish for her to continue to fully live her life.
“‘Well,’ Willow said, ‘that is just an honest look at things. After Bobby passed away, and with all the children living lives of their own…’ Willow trailed off, but then, as if trying to convince herself, said with an air of finality, ‘There is only so much bridge one can play, and after all, isn’t it the duty of the old to make way for the young?’ I simply feel that my time has passed.’ ‘Wooowee!’ Jones said in a high-pitched voice as he slapped his knees with both hands. ‘And aren’t we glad everybody doesn’t feel that way! The world would surely have missed out on some grand achievements.’
He goes on to tell her a few stories of people that have accomplished great things later in life or of people that had strongly influenced people who had gone on to accomplish great things in life.
“‘Norman Borlaug was ninety-one when he had been informed that he had been personally responsible for saving the lives of two billion people…Norman Borlaug was the man who hybridized the corn and wheat for arid climates,’ Jones answered…’For all the credit he’s received, Borlaug was not the person who saved the two billion people.’ ‘I believe it was a man named Henry Wallace. He was vice president of the United States under Roosevelt…it was Roosevelt’s third term that his vice president was a former secretary of agriculture named Henry Wallace. While Wallace was a vice president of the United States, he used the power of the office to create a station in Mexico whose sole purpose was to somehow hybridize corn and wheat for arid climates…and he hired a young man named Norman Borlaug to run it. So, while Norman Borlaug won the Nobel Prize…it was Henry Wallace whose initial act was responsible for saving the two billion lives.'”
Jones then keeps regressing further and further to see whom he can accredit with having saved two billion lives. He digs deeper and deeper into the history of the life of Henry Wallace which leads to his association with George Washington Carver and so on and so on… You get the jest. Anyway, I found the reference interesting only because of my recent personal journey of dealing with turning forty in a year and a half. It made me think again of Barbara Sher’s advice from her book It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now which as you know, I had only just recently read. Willow’s story is the ONLY reason why I gave this book three (3) stars on Goodreads.
I’d say skip this book. You won’t learn anything you probably don’t already know or have already learned from your own five senses. Yes, the lessons were that basic.