Book reviews: 52 Life Lessons from Les Misérables and Let There Be Light

52 Little Lessons from Les Misérables

This book is a mixed bag for me. I want to love it, and everything I usually rate would mean I love it. The introduction is well done, Bob Welch does a great job explaining his purpose and methodology, and the premise is a winner. I spent days in the basement of my childhood home, devouring a dusty library copy of the unabridged Les Misérables. (The unabridged version is worth the read, and it’s not the literary snob in me saying this. With the abridged, we get the familiar story and action most people have heard or seen in the musical and movies. With the unabridged, we get the whole setup for why and how.)

The life lessons from a narrative point in Les Misérables are well-chosen, if a bit cliched, and the examples from Welch’s real life give a folksy, down-to-earth application. As I said, I should love this book…but I don’t. Perhaps the error was mine in thinking a “52 Life Lessons” title would mean more than short and superficial messages. However, the richly detailed and nuanced introduction left me disappointed when the following chapters gave only an oversimplified message.

Perhaps this is what the target audience wants. For someone wanting short, to-the-point, and easy-to-understand chapters that can be read in any order, this could be a useful devotional. I did enjoy some of the chapters.

by Bob Welch

Let There Be Light

By Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Illustrated by Nancy Tillman

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s name on this cover commanded my attention, and I was eager to receive the book for review. It may be the small size and the board book version, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d anticipated. However, it would be difficult for any book to live up the expectations of Tutu’s name.

It’s a pleasant Christmas story that children will enjoy, and the message is certainly a good one.

(Books provided for review by BookLook, a subsidiary of HarperCollins.)