Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: The Time-Keeper

The Time Keeper
by Mitch Albom
New York: Hyperion, 2012

Mitch Albom, author of the bestselling "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" returns with a new novel about a subject that frequently dominates our lives: time.

Of all the creatures on earth, "man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out."

Album tells the story of three childhood friends growing up thousands of years ago. Dor and Alli marry and have children. Their friend Nim becomes king. Dor becomes the first man ever interested in time. He learns to count the hours and creates the first sundial and water clock. Dor's family is always poor because no one values his inventions, but Nim has become hugely powerful. He wants to challenge the gods and sets out to build the Tower of Babel. Dor wants no part of it and as a result, he and Alli are exiled.

When Alli becomes sick and is near death, Dor is willing to do anything to save her. He decides to climb the Tower of Babel, reach heaven, and stop time. For this, God punished him by imprisoning him in a cave where he is sentenced to "listen to the misery counting the moments creates." He becomes the mythical Father Time.

In our own era, Sarah Lemon is a tortured high school student in love with a boy who doesn't share her feelings and publicly humiliates her. Victor Delamonte is a rich man searching to extend his life indefinitely. When Father Time is released from his sentence, he is instructed to "find two souls on earth, one who wants too much time and one who wants too little. Teach them what you have learned." In teaching them, he also teaches us.

"The Time Keeper" is a modern-day fable. Dor, Sarah and Victor are all flawed characters dealing with the complexities and pains of life. Readers will identify with them. "The Time-Keeper" is a quick read that invites readers to think about that most precious of gifts: the gift of time.

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