Monday, September 12, 2011

Catholic Company Book Review: Why Am I Here?

About the Book:
Why am I Here? The book focuses around the main character Max, a seven-year-old boy, and his quest to discover the meaning of life. Max is a curious boy. He is curious about other countries, he is curious about animals and nature, and he is curious about life. One day while he is fishing with his Grandpa, Max stumbles upon the ultimate question, Why am I here? His Grandfather suggests that Max is here to become the-best-version-of-himself! In the days and weeks that follow, Max begins to notice when he is and when he is not celebrating the-best-version-of-himself. This single idea becomes the touchstone for his decision making, begins to guide his words and actions, and fosters a remarkable self-awareness. Why am I Here? is a remarkable lesson for children of all ages about living with passion and purpose.

My Comments:
It's cute; I'll give it that, and it is on my second grader's reading level.  It held her interest while we were reading it.  That's the good.

What's not good?  Well, given that I received this book for review from The Catholic Company, I expected that the answer to the title question would be some version of "To know love and serve God in this world and be happy with Him in the next"--but no, the answer is to become "the best-version-of-himself" (always written like that).  In some ways that teaching blends with traditional moral teaching as when Max reflects on various situations and decides which choice to make, when he makes the choice to do things that will make him "the best-version-of-himself", he makes the right choices, yet there is no suggestion that the right choices are pleasing to God or that the wrong choices are sinful.  

The book ends with Max looking back on his day and reflecting on which choices made him the best.... and which didn't.  He decided that he was going to do this every day.  Still, he rolls over and goes to sleep without  saying his prayers, without thanking God for the good or apologizing for the bad.  

The book also contains typos.  One sentence says "Well, Max, if a fish is good a being a fish, and a bird is good a being a bird, then you Max are good at being Max".  In another sentence, "it's" is used when it should say "its".  

In short, the book was a real disappointment. Grade:  D.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Why Am I Here?. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

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