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During my Christmas shopping spree in November I bumped up against Amazons bad habit of telling people you can only have certain items if you spend more than ten quid on an order directly from them. Feeling quite disgruntled I attempted to get the nifty little puzzle I wanted to get for my brother elsewhere. Upon failing dismally, I looked through my wish list to see if there was a suitably cheap book to buy myself to bump the order over the threshold. That is how I came to own Mitch Albom's "The Time Keeper".
===Meeting five people===
Mitchell Albom (born in New Jersey) is one of those obnoxiously talented people who has a hand in a lot of stuff. He writes books, plays AND music, is a regular on many American sports shows and Oprah sings the guys praises. He also does a load of charity work. Thankfully he has terribly large and horrible hair. I guess we can't all be perfect eh!
I first heard of him when my friend Michelle told me about one of his books "The Five People you Meet in Heaven" and promptly added a few more of his books to my wish list after reading it. From the blurb of most of his stuff, you can tell that he goes for the touching, heart-breaking, uplifting type stories and this one seems no different.
The blurb on this one gave it away from the off that this book was going to come with a life affirming message. After being banished to a dingy cave by God for trying to measure time, Father Time gets a chance to make amends and win his freedom. All he has to do is teach two mere mortals the true meaning of time. Ain't God lovely? Part of me wants to groan at how cheesy it sounds and part of me is filled with hope that there might be some worth within the pages; that something fun might be about to unfold. That latter thought was thoroughly smacked down by the terribly dull quote the publishers chose for the front from Cecelia Ahern (the woman who wrote "PS I love you") "Mitch Albom sees the magical in the ordinary" which leaves me fearing I'm about to have someone say "wow isn't this boulder just the coolest?" for the next 236 pages.
Within the first two pages, however, Albom has grabbed my interest with his story of Father Time suffering in a Cave for his sins. The set up is both melancholy and hopeful with drop of eeriness smouldering along in the background. Damn it, I'm hooked.
Albom starts in what some would deem to be a terrifyingly crushing way by reminding you that Man is the only species who has a fear of time running out, simply because Man is the only species who keeps track of time. His writing style is incredibly simple and easy to read which makes it hit home that much harder. Straight away we are introduced to the main characters; Sarah Lemon and Victor Delamonte and a boy called Dor. As far as I can tell, the former two are connected only through their fear of time running out for entirely different reasons.
Albom's narrative flips between each character in short bursts giving a sense of urgency about things. The first section of the book called "Beginning" tells the story of how Dor begins to count time and how eventually he angers the Gods and is banished. Throughout this ominous build up, we are given snippets of Sarah and Jack desperately pushing for more time to get things done. It's a very frantic section but it's so compelling I was pulled right in. Even in a small amount of pages, Albom manages to build an almost tangible feeling of dread for the fate of Dor and curiosity of what will happen. He even manages to make some sneaky and clever biblical references without me rolling my eyes! That deserves a prize!
From the start Albom uses a strange technique to make the story very simple and quite strong, by highlighting simple lines throughout the text in bold. A lot of the segments he puts in bold are no more than a sentence and they echo throughout the book, repeating for each character and drawing attention to an underlying message that, despite our differences, we are all very similar in our wants and needs. It also split up the story rather neatly, constantly interrupting the flow and then allowing it to start somewhere else.
Things get rather depressing rather quickly with this book! Dor suffers greatly and Albom really cements his feeling of loss and sorrow. Though not very far in, by now I was feeling for all the characters despite the fact that not much of their lives have been touched on. Very significant and emotionally charged moments string together a potted history of all of them, which quickly builds a connection. By about half way through you can see the turmoil that Sarah is heading for coming at her like a train while she seems completely oblivious. I really just want to reach in and give her a little shake and, possibly, a little hug to make it all better. The pages were just filled with dread and angst that builds and builds. I feel less sorry for Victor as his greed for more time becomes more and more isolating for him, though I do feel for his wife who is being pushed to the sidelines as Victor makes a plot to cheat his impending death. The hope that he will see the error of his ways for his wife's sake keeps me interested in seeing what will happen to him.
After thousands of years of torment, finally, Dor is freed and given a task to carry out. He must teach two people the lessons he has learned about time. He makes his way out into the world, towards his destiny completely unsure how to even begin with his task and eventually everyone comes together. Fate has a lot to do with it, but the feeling of higher powers at work has already been set up so it doesn't seem like contrived junk just to further the story; it seems like it was all supposed to happen just as it happened, almost like clockwork. It also feels very magical when Dor finally figures out what lesson he needs to teach these two lost souls and how to do it.
===In the end===
Just before we got to the end, I became a little irked with the direction the story was headed. It didn't seem half as original as the rest of the content, but once it had played through, it felt right. My irk was overcome by the sheer emotion held in the final few pages when everything comes to a conclusion. I found myself with a tear or two escaping my eyes. Albom wrapped everything up neatly with no questions and even a little bit of a "wow" moment in the final sentences. I was impressed. Most of the story had taken a very original path through human emotions throwing out lessons left, right and centre without being preachy in the slightest. Albom has a knack for subtly reminding you how to be a decent human being without it feeling like a dig.
I think this book would be a great one for teenagers to read to teach them to value the time they have. It also deals fantastically with cyber-bullying and how insensitive kids can be to one another. It would also be good for anyone who constantly finds themselves in a hurry or needs to remind themselves of the importance of the little things which, really, is everyone. The end becomes a bit of a story of redemption similar to Dickens "A Christmas Carol" but it is different enough to not feel like a direct rip off so don't worry too much.
Amazon will give this lovely little book to you for just under three of your finest pounds. If you own one of those devil-devices (e-readers and the like) you'll shell out a touch more at around £3.50 and you won't even have a nice little book to go with it. Rather fantastically, the cover is in the same style of the other books of his I own, so they'll look pretty on the shelf together. Fab!
The story is so easy to get through. I read it in less than 4 hours in total. It's a very simple idea which has been powerfully conveyed by Albom. He has a strange ability to get to the meaty bits of what you need to know about characters straight away. He connects you and then he takes you on an incredibly moving journey. It may not change your life, but it might remind you to stop and appreciate the roses and where's the harm in that? A very touching story which gets a full five stars from me.
'With endless time, nothing is special. With no loss or sacrifice, we can't appreciate what we have.'
The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom.
Cream and turquoise cover with an image of a pocket watch.
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher Sphere (12 September 2013)
Price on Amazon £5.24
Or can be bought second hand for £2.67+ £2.80 UK delivery so cheaper to buy it new.
This story starts 6 millennia ago when a man first discovers how to record time and is banished and turned into Father Time.
Only in the 20th century is he released to make amends - ad he has two people to meet up with and work through their problems. A fictional fable about how we think of everything in relation to Time.
I have been quite a fan of Mitch Albom, enjoying his two other books, 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' and 'Tuesdays with Morrie'.
I quite enjoy time travel stories so when say this book was newly released on Amazon I decided to give it a try.
Like all other of Mitch's books it is written in an easy to read style. The chapters are very short and there are quite a few pages with just a few lines of writing on, so although the book is classed as
256 pages the actual story only takes up 136 of them and being short chapters as well you can read it really quickly. You could easily finish it in a day.
I am not quite sure what I think of this book and it was not until you actually got to the end of the story that you had any idea how things would work out.
The main character is Dor, who is clever and figures out how to record time with sticks and shadows. For bringing the awareness of time to the human race he is banished - but then comes back to save two individuals.
I am sorry to say this book did not grip me quite as the other Mitch Albom books did. I enjoyed reading it and wanted to keep reading the net page and the next age, but although it was dealing with how we think of time and how we value it, or not, it did not really resonate with me as much as it should have done.
According to the book 'everything happens when it is supposed to'.
You get to see a certain part of the future where ' everyone can live longer than we imagined. They fill every waking minute with action, but they are empty'.
It is a moral tale to encourage people to value the time they have, and not to wish for the past or the future - tie is limited on earth - so that we value it more - ''There is a reason God limited our days - to make each one special'. For 'when you are measuring time, you are not living it'.
I did enjoy this book in its way - and am not sure really why I feel slightly detached from the characters. I would recommend this as a quick short read - quite enjoyable - but not quite as good as some of Albom's other works
===Would I Recommend?===