Special Report

Written by River Jordan
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Published: 2012
Length: 352 pages

Recently in the news, people are not interested in their neighbors because of their busy, daily lives. The death of an elderly person who lives alone is a prime example. Because of a comfortable living environment, the nuclear family, and individual instead of community focus, the importance of neighbors are fading more than ever before. The book Praying for Strangers provides an opportunity for people to think about their current lives.

The writer of this book, River Jordan, hears the unbelievable news before New Year’s that her two sons have volunteered to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In response, she decides to spend the next year in a special way instead of having a sad last Christmas holiday. Her New Year’s Resolution is, “I will pray for one stranger each and every day of the year.” As soon as the new year begins, Jordan talks with strangers who she usually passes in normal places like cafes, streets, and markets. The conversation begins with a very simple question like “May I ask your name?” or statement like “Today you’re my special stranger.” This is the key that opens people’s hearts every time.

One day, Jordan went to a bank and met a bank clerk named Marion. She asks Marion to talk about her New Year’s Resolution and says that today she will pray for Marion. Marion is embarrassed and tries to avoid her, but eventually she talks about her husband’s cancer and shares her grief with Jordan. Another day, Jordan goes to a restaurant to buy a sandwich and meets Rooney who is a waiter. She says to him that he is the person she will pray for today. He is delighted, feeling like he has won the lottery. Another day, Jordan meets a man in a parking lot who smiles and seems untroubled, but in reality he is hiding the fact that he was recently fired. Later in a cafe she meets a girl who needs cheering up for her interview. That night, Jordan prays for both of them.

As well as these episodes, Jordan meets a lot of neighbors and has conversations with them. And she prays for them, too. The reaction of the people and their stories are each different, but they share the sorrows and joys through conversation. Praying for Strangers has 70 episodes and prayers for all the strangers. It is the story of ordinary neighbors who we can easily encounter on the street. The episodes are exciting and impressive and make us think about the strangers’ stories and sympathize with their lives.

The author says, “From the beggars on the streets to the rich, we all have a story that needs a pray and cheer.” She also asks, “Do you support and sincerely pray for the people closest to you?” When you read this book, you can realize that there are a lot of people around you who you don’t really know. You can also ask yourself how indifferent you are to the people around you and reflect on your decisions.