Not What I Expected, But More

Heather Jenks

4 Stars

October 4, 2012

When I first saw The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack, I was intrigued by the subtitle "How Three Mexican Fisherman Who Came Back from the Dead Changed My Life and Saved My Marriage," but still didn't know exactly what to expect. I suppose I expected that the author was inspired by their story of survival by faith (since they had a Bible on a fishing boat in the middle of the ocean for nine months).

I didn't expect that the author's story is so interwoven with the fishermans' stories. Not at first. No, the first two chapters seem to be stark contrast and, I admit, I wondered what I'd gotten into and was tempted to skip the chapters about "Joe" and his life, just to read more of the captivating writing about the fishermen lost at sea, some losing hope & some gaining faith. I didn't skip the chapters about Joe, however, and half way through the book I was glad I hadn't. (Click here to read the first chapter.) What started off as two separate tales became intricately interwoven and somehow portrayed an immense depth of thought and intimacy, all the while using very common every-day-language. I didn't need a dictionary or thesaurus to be drawn into the emotion of this narrative, yet having devoured the book in less than 72 hours, I'm left thinking that a dictionary or thesaurus would absolutely be necessary to find the appropriate word to describe it. It is refreshingly honest and real; not hyped up with fancy writing techniques. It's conversational; an easy read that you find perplexing (in a good way) in hindsight.

I also have to note that I gained some insight into the male mind. Not that all men think alike. Not trying to be sexist or judgmental here, but we all know that men and women don't process things, don't mull them over in their brains, in quite the same way as each other. I think I actually learned some things about my husband by reading this book; it has inspired me to be a better wife (and I have no complaints about our marriage- it is wonderful!). This book just did that- just inspired me not to be content with what is good. God is good, certainly, but He is also Great: vastly magnificent with power and lovingkindness beyond our ability to grasp. I want to release my death grip on the sense of having a little bit of control in life and open my hands to receive the gift that comes from giving- giving boldly to serve God and be a cheerleader for my husband no matter what storms come into his life.

I'm having my husband read this book next, because I think he will connect with the book in an entirely different manner than I did, and I am anxious to hear his thoughts. My seventh grade daughter also wants to read the book and I am glad. She wants to know how fishermen survived that long at sea, but I think that it will open good conversations [based on Joe's life] about how easily and casually a person can slip into the lifestyle of materialism, and even addiction, and how devastating the consequences. Good thing is, it doesn't end there (far too many conversations with our kids start with "don't do this" and end with "or such-and-such will happen" don't you think?), for her to hear how the fishermen's tale ended, she will also have to read how Joe turned his life in repentance toward the Lord, and how Our Faithful Father, in His mercy, poured out Grace in His own special style.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.