By Travis Thrasher
Forty—the milestone that leaves your either dreading the fact that middle age has finally arrived or embracing the new era in your life.
I found it somewhat appropriate that I read Travis Thrasher’s book 40 over the month that I entered this decade of my life. As I embraced the turn of age, I found myself somewhat glued to Thrasher’s character Tyler Harrison as he journeyed toward his big 4-0. I was also very thankful I wasn't facing Tyler’s sudden mortality.
With only nine months to go before music producer Tyler turned forty, he starts developing strange hallucinations. As he struggles to comprehend what is happening to him, he meets Matthew, his guardian angel. Matthew, unfortunately, is not the bearer of good news. Instead he tells Tyler that he has only two hundred and fifty-six days to live. He will see his next birthday, but not a day longer.
Matthew takes Tyler on a journey through his past, showing him events in his life where he could have died had Matthew not been there to prevent it. When Matthew refuses to give Tyler any straight answers, Tyler sends him away and continues his downward spiral into hopelessness and despair.
As his personal D-day approaches, Tyler meets DJ Ellis and Pastor Will, two polar opposites who both intrigue and unsettle him. Ellis takes Tyler on a fast and furious journey of immorality and temptations, while Pastor Will tries to help Tyler sort through his confusion and fears.
Thrasher did a fantastic job with characterizations especially Tyler’s, who was very dark, gritty, and complex. However, I do have to issue a bad language warning for those who prefer not to read it in a book.
Musical references played a big part in the story, with each chapter also named after a song title. While the references helped solidify Tyler’s character, I didn't always get them and found some confusing and unfamiliar, even though I was brought up in that era.
As with all good suspense novels, a twist is inevitable. 40 is no different and Thrasher managed to take me by surprise with its excellent execution and thought provoking implications.
Written in first person narrative, 40 is very dark and highly introspective. I have to admit, I struggled at times to finish the book and I still can’t decide if I loved it or hated it. One thing is for sure, 40 is not a book you will forget in a hurry.