The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

The Ultimate Gift by Jim StovallThe Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall is a contrived, preachy story where most of the action takes place off stage. Despite all of that it’s still worth reading.

The plot revolves around Jason Stevens, a spoiled young man who stands to inherit a life-changing amount of money if he fulfills certain tasks set out in the will of his rich great-uncle Red Stevens. Red is an old-school Texas oil-man who upon his death leaves behind twelve video messages to teach Jason the important life lessons that he failed to instill his children or grandchildren. After each video Jason has a month to perform a task and report back to Red’s lawyer, Mr. Hamilton.

The chapters are short and have a repetitive pattern, so the story feels a bit like a parable, which is probably a good approach to take when reading it. Each chapter is about a different gift and only takes about five minutes to read aloud, which is great way to share it with children or students. I’ve read the book several times to students and it always led to great discussions.

The movie starring James Garner, Bill Cobbs, and Lee Meriwether is a good companion piece to the book and even improves on it in several ways. The action moves from off stage to on screen, there is a little more conflict that helps to propel the story forward, and the actors bring the characters to life in a way that the book doesn’t.

The Ultimate Gift isn’t great literature or even great storytelling, but there is wisdom in its simplicity, and the twelve gifts are worth reading about, thinking about, and putting into practice.

The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall
Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2001
Printed length: 165 pages

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, a Roman Catholic deacon and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

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