Who Is “The Man In The Box”?

I just finished reading Andrew Toy’s new ebook, The Man In The Box. I got my copy over a month back, but saved it for when I was on vacation so I could read uninterrupted. And I was not disappointed—I finished it in a day. I had a hard time putting it down.

But since then, I’ve been having a hard time figuring out, “How do I write a review? What do I say?” The fantasy portion reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, George MacDonald’s Curdie books, though not as intensely fantastic. It reads like a Pixar script (and I know Andrew is a big fan of Pixar movies, so this is intended as a compliment).

The plot revolves around Robbie Lake, just laid off from a 11-year job perfectly suited for him (a book editor). While involved in a less-than-honorable enterprise, he hurriedly has to hide in a large box, and inadvertently finds himself in an alternate world, one he had created as a child. It has since evolved into something more sinister, darker, and, he discovers, on the verge of extinction. Some of the characters there tell him it is prophesied that he will come back and save them. But the more time he spends there, the more difficult it becomes to navigate both worlds, since he can’t do both at the same time. And therein lies his dilemma: He would love to save his fantasy world and become its hero/god, and attempts to spend as much time there as possible, but reality and duty keep calling him back to the one he knows is really real, which includes his wife, his 7-year-old son, his 15-year-old daughter, and before it’s over, his father. So he has to make choices, and ultimately, he knows, it will come down to The Choice.

If Robbie were older, I’d say he’s having a mid-life crisis. But the more I think about it, the less I like that simplification. There is more universality here. Robbie comes close to being an archetypal figure. He is Everyman, and his box is everyone’s “box.” Robbie is Willy Loman. Robbie is Jean Valjean. He is Bunyan’s “Christian.” He is Jekyll and Hyde, or Dumas’ Man In The Iron Mask, or Luke Skywalker fighting himself in the cave or struggling to deal with the truth about his father, or Frodo with the ring. He is a type of our fear and our faith fighting each other. And ultimately one must win.

We all feel boxed in at times in our lives. How do we handle it? One good way is vicariously. Whether or not the characters make the right or the best choices, we can, through books and movies, experience a simulated “box” and ask ourselves how we would deal with the same situation. And sometimes, just sometimes, we can take lessons back that help us deal with our own real-life boxes.

Andrew’s book should be out on Amazon soon. Check it out. And you can even preview the first few chapters free on his blog, http://adoptingjames.wordpress.com. While you’re there, why not check out why he named his blog what he did, and why he writes?

NOTE: Andrew provided a free copy of this ebook for the purposes of review prior to release.


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