David Ponder had come to the end of his rope and couldn’t even find the emotional strength to tie a knot and hang on. A 46-year-old down-sized executive with a mountain of debt, no prospects, no insurance, and a sick daughter, Ponder takes a hopeless drive to nowhere. Going way too fast, he hits an icy bridge and spins out of control, all the while screaming, “Why me?!?” He wakes up, not in a hospital, but in an office in Potsdam, Germany in 1945. He doesn’t know it yet, but his journey is just beginning.
The central theme of The Traveler’s Gift seems to be that great people rise to great challenges while being refined by great adversity, whereas ordinary people give up and check out. Andy Andrews could have just written a motivational book with his “seven decisions for success,” thrown in some nice anecdotes, and left it at that. Instead, he tells the story of David Ponder as he is given the gift of time travel so he can learn these lessons personally from observing the lives of great people.
The book has a It’s a Wonderful Life vibe, but it is not a rip-off of that tale. It is an easy, semi-short, enjoyable read. It is by no means a classic or a great work of timeless literature, but it is motivational and gets the point across in the form of an engaging allegory, not a lecture. The points Andrews makes are sound and made me think about not just about life in general, but my own life, too. When a book does that while entertaining me, I can definitely say it will be worth the time one invests in reading The Traveler’s Gift.