The Deal of a Lifetime
by Fredrik Backman
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.
It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose—not yet.
One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.
As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way—prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.
Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…
Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love. –Goodreads
I read two books by Fredrik Backman this year and enjoyed them both. When I saw The Deal of a Lifetime floating around on Goodreads, the cover and author sent me right into an impulse buy and I used an Audible credit to purchase it. I didn’t even read the blurb and assumed I was purchasing a Christmas read. It turned out to be very different from what I expected and my review below might contain something you consider a spoiler if you want to go in completely blind. Although, I don’t feel that I reveal anything more than the blurb does.
The story begins with a father telling his son a story on Christmas Eve about how he killed someone. He’s not disclosing details and you won’t find out until the end of the story what really happens, but basically, he knows he hasn’t been an exceptional father. He explains that he’s been obsessed with his legacy and has chosen what ‘he’ considers success over being a good parent to his son. That’s what’s been most important to him–leaving behind a legacy full of everything he thinks is important–wealth and security. Then he meets someone who’s dying of cancer and he begins to question the decisions he’s made. He begins to question how important life is. Do other people’s lives matter? How important is someone else’s life to you if you don’t know them?
When I first started listening to this I began to feel that I wasn’t going to be pleased with it. I appreciated that the places described in the story were real, taking place in the author’s hometown, but when I started to contemplate that there might be a death, I was thinking for sure that I would hate it. By the time I got to the end, it hit me. Had my husband not been in the vehicle with me for the hour drive, I may have used an entire box of Kleenex and bawled my eyes out for another hour. The story is short and it’s quite expensive to buy, but It’s truly thought-provoking and what a powerful and meaningful message it sends. For that I’m giving this 5*****.
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