, January 26, 2010
(view all comments by crazypsychobooklover)
Jack Oliver thought he had it all figured out. He knew what he wanted, and was well on the way to his goal. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jack is a hard driving, work obsessed banking executive. He never wanted anything to do with the family plumbing business, his goal was long ago mapped out in his mind...becoming president at PT&G, Philadelphia Trust & Guaranty, the largest bank in Philadelphia. Jack charged ahead and worked his way up from an entry-level job to the second-highest position at the bank. When PT&G is bought out by one of the largest banking systems in the country, he is is forced to face with a harsh reality: the position he had long considered the pinnacle of his success is no longer a possibility.
I wondered as I read, just how many other business executives are finding themselves in the same spot as Jack Oliver these days, in these unsteady economic times. It added another dimension to my reading, and made this already outstanding work of fiction seem more like reality than a fictious tale.
For the first time in over 25 years, Jack, now 45,confronts the aftermath of having devoted practically each waking hour to work and getting ahead on that elusive ladder of success as he imagined it. His personal life is in shambles; he’s made difficult choices at the expense of others; he’s surrendered his integrity by turning a blind eye to greed, dishonesty, and questionable business practices; and now, the job that once defined and sustained him is in danger of either consuming him or perhaps just disappearing totally. Jack’s long time friend John Helms suggests that he is in need of a change and offers to introduce him to Benjamin Franklin “Benny” Price, the CEO of Citizens Bank in Roanoke, Virginia, Jack is initially doubtful and full of disdain. Why would Jack Oliver, a big fish in the banking world of Philadelphia, even consider a job in a hick town? And Benny? Jack wonders how a guy named "Benny" could offer him anything useful, what would a guy called Benny know or understand about the complicated world of big city banking? What could Benny, a seventy-year-old dinosaur of the small town banking world, have to offer him? Facing an unexpected health crisis, Jack realizes that his friend John may be right; perhaps it is time for a change of pace, a different sort of banking job. Jack reluctantly agrees to meet Benny one weekend. Jack discovers that Benny, a man with whom he assumed he’d have nothing in common, is not all that dissimilar. To Jack's amazement, Benny actually has a fresh perspective on life, work, and success. But Benny sure doesn’t have all the answers. Left without the success he once craved and the family he undervalued, can Jack, a man whose life has been punctuated by wanting more—more money, more power, more prestige—learn to embrace the concept of a new kind of ‘questionable life’? Can there be more to his life than working towards that elusive goal?
Truly a novel for our time, author Luke Lively's book, "A Questionable Life", may offer all of us a new perspective on dealing with the blows of life, and learning the hard lesson that what we think we value the most really has no meaning at all. A compelling and well told story that will make the reader question his own goals and what really defines us.