I find there are a handful of books that have a significant place in one’s life. The Breaking of the Shell is one of mine. To say the book resonated for me is an understatement.
The story is about Alexander and elements of his journey through life, from being a misguided, self centred and fearful man to the discovery of an alternative perspective of life. It covers aspects of childhood, schooling, friendships, peer pressure, work life, business relationships, parental relationships, marriage (and divorce), parenting, love, sex, drugs and… hmm – no Rock and Roll. Oh well, can’t have everything!
I found I recognised, and strongly identified with, many of Alexander’s experiences. I alternated between chuckling, saying `Oh yes – I did that’ and cringing, saying `Oh God – I did that!’. The book acted like a mirror for me, reflecting my past back at me inviting me to examine myself. It was a strange feeling to have a book I felt had both been written about me and for me.
I feel the book works at a number of levels, from the deep connection I made with it, through to just being a good story to be enjoyed. In between those poles it looks at a number of interesting, grounded and connected ideas, such as being open to gifts from others, home education, unconditional giving and, something close to my heart, a new way of approaching listening and communication. If the book has a theme, I would say it that – listening and communication, and the book gives an introduction to a new communication model and a portrayal of it in action.
It is easy to identify listening and communication as things that could use improvement, but another thing completely to make significant changes in those areas (in my experience). The introduction of this communication approach does alter the books flow somewhat, but does not seem forced nor out of place.
I hold my hands up to having a strong relationship with this book, and acknowledge this review is framed by that. But as a 40 year old man, who was that misguided, self centred and fearful individual, and who now is developing an alternative (and much happier and more peaceful) perspective of life, I felt drawn to share my experiences with The Breaking of the Shell.
Enjoy the book – whatever you find in it.