Review: The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 3.5 – 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆


What It’s About:

A father and a son are seeing each other for the first time in years. The father has a story to share before it’s too late. He tells his son about a courageous little girl lying in a hospital bed a few miles away. 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 he talks about this plucky little girl, the father also reveals more about himself: his triumphs in business, his failures as a parent, his past regrets, his hopes for the future.

Now, on a cold winter’s night, the father has been given an unexpected chance to do something remarkable that could change the destiny of a little girl he hardly knows. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he must find out what his own life has actually been worth, and only his son can reveal that answer.

With humor and compassion, Fredrik Backman’s The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our legacy rests in how we share that gift with others.


My Thoughts:

Fredrik Backman begins his story, The Deal of a Lifetime, with a shocking statement that not only hooks the reader but also sets the foreboding tone of the story.  Looking at the cover, one might guess this is a holiday story; however, the only thing related to Christmas/holidays is the time frame in which the story is set.

This dark and somber read is a long short story.  A cancer-ridden chain smoker, a child with cancer, a grim reaper clothed in a frumpy grey sweater are the main focus of the story which is told as a letter from the narrator to his adult son.  The narrator has had a highly successful life. He achieved his goals, but does he regret any of the “roads not taken” in making his dreams a reality?  Mr. Backman doesn’t answer that question directly, but he does give his main character enough humanity to reflect upon the ramifications of  the choices he made and to finally accept his son’s decisions.

“You were always someone who could be happy. You don’t know how much of a blessing that is.”

Not uplifting like A Wonderful Life, but The Deal of a Lifetime does explore the ripple effects of one’s life in a thought-provoking way.  What is the value of our achievements?  Will anyone be negatively impacted by our not having existed?  This wasn’t a tearjerker read for me, but it did leave me feeling forlorn.


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