A teenage boy, on a journey to find the brother who left him in the care of their grandfather years ago, is given a mysterious book to read. In it, a “skinny boy,” not unlike himself, offers words of wisdom that explain, in a series of lessons, the principles behind the things that are occurring in the world—in a sense, it is a kind of “operator’s manual” for life on the planet and beyond.
Called to a spiritual mission, the boy learns that things are not what they appear to be, and the pain, poverty, old age, and death to which humanity is subject cause him sorrow. The timeless quest for meaning and thirst for enlightenment expressed in this story recall the Buddha’s journey to enlightenment and transcendence.
Author Peter Abrahams has, since 1984, studied the roles of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the conflicted events that have marked the twentieth century, and the killing done in the name of religion that has continued to mark the twenty-first. The author is concerned that people are living in fear and poverty under the control of organizations and institutions that, while claiming to be working for good, are instead ensuring that they will remain enslaved. He raises questions about the theory of evolution, and the effects that the belief that one is descended from apes may have on one’s mind. Other topics explored in this work include terrorism, suicide bombers and their threats, the failure of the penal system that only serves to further debase the criminal, and other such difficult and seemingly insoluble problems.
Abrahams shares with readers his belief that each person is born with certain talents, and that if these are fully developed, humankind will enjoy a world in which poverty, crime, war, and disease will not stand a chance. But it is the role of the devil to destroy, or at least diminish a child’s talents, leaving him in a weakened and fearful state, confused and unsure of what to make of his life. According to Abrahams, “The Human Heart…is a battleground. He who gains control of the Human Heart shall take the Earth.” And it is to the benefit of those who would keep humanity enslaved that the “pure and clean Heart” which is “all you need to fight the devil,” is kept from reaching its full potential and power.
Many of the ideas espoused by Abrahams have merit, especially those on dealing with crime without resorting to imprisonment, and it is suggested that the author make a decision as to which genre—novel, or philosophical text—would best carry them to a wider audience. Novel readers are looking for a good story, with a clear and well-paced plot, interesting characters, and lively and meaningful dialogue. These are not the same readers who would head for a book of philosophy. The author has sandwiched rather pale characters between thick blocks of philosophical text, which serves neither group of readers well. And although the cover image is beautiful and mysterious, the typographical and grammatical errors and small type size make for less than pleasurable reading.