This small book begins with a father looking back over his life on Christmas Eve, wanting to tell his own son what he has concluded. The story starts with him saying he has taken a life, but he doesn’t admit, at this point, whose life he has taken.
This man recently spent a lot of time in a hospital and while there he met a five-year-old girl who had cancer. The girl knows she won’t beat the cancer she has, but she just tries to help the adults in her life deal with it. As he considers the little girl, he realizes how meaningless his own life has been. He had left his wife and son 20 years before seeking success and financial gain.
He would like to help the little girl with cancer and he would like to see if he can begin a relationship with his son, but it will require “The Deal of a Lifetime”.
As he stands by his son’s bed he says: “Hi. It’s your dad. You’ll be waking up soon, it’s Christmas Eve morning in Helsingborg, and I’ve killed a person. That’s not how fairy tales usually begin, I know. But I took a life. Does it make a difference if you know whose it was?”
Backman introduces this story telling us that it was originally a story in his local paper, written around Christmas of 2016, and that it meant a great deal to him. It may mean a lot to you when you ponder the decision that was made. The book is short but effective in making you ponder the value of a life.
“The only thing of value on Earth is time. One second will always be a second, there’s no negotiating with that.”
“Happy people don’t create anything, their world is one without art and music and skyscrapers, without discoveries and innovations. All leaders, all of your heroes, they’ve been obsessed. Happy people don’t get obsessed, they don’t devote their lives to curing illnesses or making planes take off. The happy leave nothing behind. They live for the sake of living, they’re only on earth as consumers. Not me.”
“You were always someone who could be happy. You don’t know how much of a blessing that is.”
“I, who had wanted to live a life high above everyone else, ended up with a son who would rather live deep beneath the surface.”