Andy Andrews’ latest “motivational novel” titled “The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity” is a sequel of sorts to his earlier book “The Traveler’s Gift.”  In the earlier book, David Ponder, a somewhat successful businessman in his mid 40’s, is laid off from his job.  The layoff was unexpected and was not handled in a good way by his employer.  Things began to fall apart for Ponder, with things going from bad to worse.  But, at a strategic moment in Ponder’s emotional decline, he had a terrible car accident.  But it was not a normal accident, and it would become known as a gift to Ponder, because of the way it dramatically changed his life.  When Ponder had the accident, he took what can best be described as a time traveling trip.  During this very real trip back through time, Ponder met several historical figures who each gave him a specific “Decision for Success”.  Figures as varied from King Solomon to Anne Frank visit with Ponder.    Ponder goes on to use the Seven Decision for Success in a way that changes his life and brings dynamic change to the world.  Now, in the follow-up book “The Final Summit” Ponder again goes on a time travel trip of sorts.  But this trip is quite different and presents Ponder with quite a challenge.

In this new book, Ponder’s life has changed again.  His beloved wife of forty-nine years has died.  It has been eight months since her death, but Ponder continues to grieve deeply.  Ellen’s death had been sudden and unexpected.  David Ponder is having a very difficult time dealing with the routines of daily life.  In fact, he no longer has the desire to live.  But he decided that he had to live, since he felt that killing himself would not honor his late wife’s memory and he knew that such an act would likely be harmful to the charitable organizations he supports or had created.

One evening as Ponder is feeling overwhelmed by grief, he gets out the old tobacco pouch in which he stores each of the seven items he received as part of each individual decision that he had received on his unbelievable time travel trip many years before.  Each item had a special significance to him.  Breaking down that evening, “David reached for the tobacco pouch and the Seven Decisions and drew them into a pile.  Placing his arms around the items and his head on top of his arms, he wept in great, agonizing sobs.”   The writer continues Ponder’s dilemma, writing, “After a time, with his head still on his desk and his tears spent, he said aloud, ‘I don’t know what to do.  I just don’t know what to do.’”  ” And you are not alone in that sentiment,’ a voice replied.  ‘Perhaps that is why I am here.’”  Then, continuing, Andrews writes, “Startled, David jerked his head up and stared open-mouthed into a face he had not seen in twenty-eight years - the archangel Gabriel.”

Yes, the archangel Gabriel, who had appeared to David many years before as he traveled through time, has come back to visit him.  The two get “reacquainted again” as best as a human and an archangel can, and then Gabriel tells David Ponder why he has come to visit him again.  He has an assignment for David, and it is quite an assignment.  Essentially the archangel Gabriel tells David that the human race is at a turning point - at a place where God is not pleased - and that there is going to be a meeting of fellow Travelers like David Ponder and the time travelers he had previously met.  Only this time there will be many more Travelers than just the seven Ponder had met.  And this will be no ordinary meeting.  Gabriel bills it as “The Final Summit.”  The hundreds of fellow Travelers will meet to try to discover the one solution to the question of what humans need to do to save the fate of humanity.

Not only is Ponder shocked to find out that he will be part of this unparalled summit, but he is dismayed when it is revealed by Gabriel that Ponder will be the leader of the summit.  He will be in charge.  Before he can fully comprehend what is going to happen,  the archangel Gabriel takes Ponder away.  Away to the mysterious, strange place where the all important summit will take place.  After arriving, the other Travelers begin to arrive, too.  David immediately sees many historical figures that he recognizes and some who look familiar but he cannot identify.  Gabriel lays out the rules of the summit and explains that the group basically has five opportunities to come up with the correct answer to what humans must do to be saved.  To make the challenge of finding the answer even greater, there is a time limit.  Gabriel points out a huge hourglass timepiece which already has sand moving through it.

As is typical with Andy Andrews’ books, the chapters of this book are short and are easy to read.  The storyline is interesting and it did tend to pull me in as I read.  I wanted to keep reading to see what was going to happen next.  While the desire to read on and see what happens is certainly an important element of a good book, I do feel that Andrews could have done a lot more to develop the characters and the discussions that the characters had.  I learned things about several different historical characters that I did not already know.  One of the main characters was a World War II hero who most of us would never know about if we did not read this book.  The story of that character was fascinating.  But, in general, the book was underdeveloped.  Andrews likes to write his books to both entertain and motivate.  This book has elements of both of those concepts, but not enough, especially of the motivational element.

The Traveler’s Gift,” the predecessor to this book, was very motivational.  Each of the seven decisions presented in that book were very practical and yet inspirational.  At the end of  ”The Traveler’s Gift” Andrews includes a plan for re-reading each of the seven decisions and applying them to your daily life.  In this new book, we are challenged by the ideas the Traveler’s toss around as they seek to find the one answer to the question of what will save humanity, but I did not finish the book with the feeling of inspiration that I have found in other Andy Andrews books.  I wish the story had been developed more and had been deeper.   On the back of the book’s dust jacket, PGA Champion Hal Sutton compares Andy Andrews to a mixture of C.S. Lewis, Alfred Hitchcock, and Tony Robbins.  To me that comparison is quite a stretch.  QUITE a stretch.  An enjoyable book, but not on the caliber of C.S. Lewis’s works.

On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being great), columbiabookseller gives “The Final Summit” a  3

The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity

Andy Andrews, author

Thomas Nelson, Inc.    2010

ISBN 978-0-7852-3120-2

All quotes are taken directly from the book or from the promotions on the book’s dust jacket.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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