An Inspiring and Worthwhile read, with Some Reservations

K Stone

3.5 Stars

August 21, 2012

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. But I knew that it was about a man and his marriage, and, somehow, how a group of fishermen had saved his marriage. Two seemingly unrelated incidents, and two incidents that I am still not quite sure complement each other.

When I began reading this book, I think I expected something between a Nicholas Sparks book and Moby Dick... But it fell short on both ends and pleasantly surprised me in the middle.

Joe Kissack had it all, a fancy house, expensive car, enviable job. He had it all, but something grave was lacking. A part of him always understood this, and he sought to fill the hole inside him with more stuff and more accomplishments. Eventually, alcohol, and then drugs filled that hole. It’s not an uncommon scenario: raised under a tough father, the man wants to please his father and so becomes an overachiever, until he finally realizes that nothing fills this hole and he needs help.

But for Joe Kissack, help arrived in the story of five fisherman who disappeared from the Mexican coast. It was a news story that went largely unnoticed in America, overshadowed by the confession of John Mark Karr to having killed JonBenet Ramsey. Kissack, however, followed a different story, a story about survival in the midst of overwhelming odds, a story of five men drifting in the ocean who had only each other, a boat and a Bible.

The story of the three surviving fishermen, Jesús, Salvador, and Lucio, does not parallel Joe Kissack’s much. The telling of their stories, narrated in alternating bits and pieces, is at times frustrating and other times slow. Although both stories are interesting, I found the fishermen’s story more so, and was disappointed that the fishermen’s story was not featured more prevalently past the first twelve chapters.

For some Christian readers that suffer from depression and drug and alcohol abuse, Kissack’s dramatic salvation and easy abandonment of such demons could be challenging to read about. Although it is stated once that most Christians do not have a transformation like Kissack experienced, the story is more focused on the amazing aspects of his salvation. I do not mean to make light of God’s ability to change lives, and though this story is about that ability as much as about the fishermen, for some readers, this may not be an inspiring read, but one that leaves them unhappy with their ongoing battle with depression or drugs and alcohol.

The Fourth Fisherman was a book that I am glad I read. It was interesting and kept my attention throughout, but I would have liked to see more substance with the fishermen and how their ordeal changed their lives. That part of the story is glossed over and the brief epilogue is too brief, in my opinion. Despite my reservations, I enjoyed the read. Kissack has written an inspiring book, one that could encourage men and women to accept some harsh realities about themselves and get help, whether from God or from counseling.