**spoiler alert** I liked this one – a lot. After a fairly slow start, it steadily gained momentum. The last half was both well written and inspiring,**spoiler alert** I liked this one – a lot. After a fairly slow start, it steadily gained momentum. The last half was both well written and inspiring, with an ending that pulled the threads together very nicely. Some of my questions were answered, and thoughts reinforced, by author’s comments in an interview that followed the text.
Before reading the book, I had noted the extreme range of opinions expressed in the reviews. Many loved this book, and from its message some found a new sense of focus and purpose in their own lives. Some hated it, either because they found the storyline trite and/or preachy, or because they felt it advocated for abandoning personal responsibility.
I found it inspiring, and I fervently believe that you can achieve your dreams – at least some of them. But I would advise readers to hedge their bets, rather than take the entire message as true for everyday life. Here is one quote from the book that I would spin in a slightly different way:
"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." (The author’s belief in the truth of this message, also described as “beginner’s luck” in the story, is made clear in the postscript interview.)
I will illustrate my view with a hypothetical private conversation. A student, asking for my advice, says that he/she has read the book and wants to follow its message in his/her own life. My response would be something like this:
“Let’s suppose (and I suspect) that the universe is random with respect to the wishes of an individual. What is clearly not random is your ability to identify an opportunity as it comes into your view – a chance to move closer to your goal.
If you have a clear mission (‘Personal Legend’ in the story), you will be alert for those opportunities. If you make good use of them, the universe will be ‘helping’ you because you helped yourself. In this respect, the message of the book is both admirable and true. The difference is that you don’t sit back and wait for the universe to do the job for you. You put your energy into the positive, and you move past the negative.”
Another way of saying this is, “God helps those who help themselves”. To me, that is what happened to the boy in the story. If the story had been written in the way I described, it wouldn’t have sold very many books. And that (to me) is how the author helped himself.