The past few days I’ve been following the adventures of a cheeky old man named Jones, who gives the residents of Orange Beach, Alabama a new perspective on life, love, and everything in-between in the novel, The Noticer (Thomas Nelson). The book is the latest from New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews (The Traveler’s Gift).
Jones (not “Mr. Jones, just Jones”) is a “noticer”, which means he observes the lives of others and then intervenes to offer folks “perspective.” He first appears to Andy, a homeless 20-something who lives under the boardwalk by the beach. After giving Andy some encouragement (“perspective”), the character goes on to become quite successful. It isn’t until years later when Andy is married with kids that Jones rolls back into town.
Andy learns that Jones has helped other people—some of Andy’s friends even. Somehow Jones picks the perfect place and time to meet individual characters where they are at physically as well as emotionally. For example, chronic worrier Walker Miles picks Jones up on the side of the road while Willow Callaway has a pleasant conversation with Jones while sitting on her favorite bench in her backyard. He shows up on Henry Warren’s work site as part of his landscaping crew!
As more people talk about Jones, their encounter stories are stranger and stranger. No one knows where he stays while in town, where he gets money, and why he is always wearing the same outfit and carrying that odd little suitcase. Yet everyone loves the guy for his off-the-cuff advice—some of which is practical and the rest is saturated with wisdom—that seems to come from everything from the Bible to Gary Chapman’s Love Languages series to historical biographies. While there is no overt quotation of Bible verses and the like, it is obvious that Jones has a Jesus-like quality about him. He makes references to God’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and accountability in his conversations.
As Jones gives each character in the vignettes “perspective,” I was also given a little perspective on my own life. Clearly this is the point of the book. Andrews offers some hard truth in the non-threatening persona of an old fella named Jones. The Noticer is engaging, interesting, and a pleasant read. The plot is pretty basic and the end is a bit predictable. Still, sometimes predictable is good, especially with the pearls of wisdom hidden within the pages of The Noticer.