With his best-selling 2003 sugar rush, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom set tough new standards for sticky sentimentality, insipid moralizing, and cheesy plotting. His latest fictional effort, For One More Day, meets them all with ease.
Crybaby protagonist Chick Benetto is a washed-up ballplayer, alcoholic, and all-around ass who decides to kill himself when his daughter declines to invite him to her wedding. ''You get shut out of your only child's life, you feel like a steel door has been locked,'' Chick explains. ''You're banging, but they just can't hear you. And being unheard is the ground floor of giving up, and giving up is the ground floor of doing yourself in.''
Whatever happened to basements? Feelings hurt, Chick gets drunk and jumps off a water tower. Unfortunately, he survives, and in a daze wanders back to his childhood home, where he finds his dead mother, Posey, magically restored to saintly life and waiting to tenderly dab his face with a damp cloth (''Look at you...'') and salve his ''ruined soul'' with her unconditional love. In their gooey and restorative ''one more day'' together, Posey reveals heartrending secrets (she cleaned houses to put him through college), Chick apologizes for countless misdeeds (he skipped out early on her 79th birthday), and Albom continues his run as the most shamelessly pandering novelist in America.