Sunday, 9 December 2012

Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

My Dad loaned me this short, simple fable because he thought that I would enjoy reading it and it might make good material for a review. My poor dad didn't know what he was getting into. Three times I nearly gave up on this one and twice it had me in tears. Why? Because the story hit me so very close to home.

The Time Keeper is a fable about a man called Dor, who was responsible for the invention of time six thousand years ago. After climbing a tower that is destroyed by God (yes, many biblical implications there, no comment,) Dor is sent to live in a cave where he is made to suffer the consequences of his invention--basically he listens to every man, woman and child on earth begging for more or less time. Then Dor is granted a chance at freedom, on the condition that he find two people--one who is begging for more time on earth and one who wants less time on earth--and help them. And so begins Dor's trip to New York City where he meets the two individuals he can help.

The pair are polar opposites. Sarah Lemon is an intelligent young high schooler who is suffering the consequences of an unrequited love in the most humiliating way possible. Basically she met a boy who was part of the in-crowd, he led her on for a while, she became a little too attached and he blew her off. Then, the arrogant little sod announces Sarah's actions publicly on facebook and she gets to watch as all of his friends make humiliating and degrading comments about her. The comments are bad enough for Sarah to want to end her own life.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, wealthy businessman Victor Delamonte, is trying to prolong his life. He knows that he is dying, but he has no desire to leave the earth just yet. He decides that being cryogenically frozen is the solution to his problems. Then, his body can be stored until such a time that his illness can be cured and he can live forever.

Naturally, Dor's purpose is to help both Victor and Sarah. The ending, which is both beautiful and surprising touched me quite deeply. But that is not why the story made me cry.

Albom is a skillful storyteller. But anyone who has read The Five People You Meet in Heaven can tell you that. What I wasn't expecting was just how deeply I cared for Victor and Sarah or how much I could identify with both characters, especially Sarah and the sting she feels from crushing on an unsuitable man. Luckily, Sarah is eventually able to rise above it and proves that she can make a real difference in the world, unlike others, who remain in their safe cloistered little clique.

As previously stated, I could also identify with Victor and his fear of his own approaching mortality. Death is a frightening thing. It cannot be reversed and no one knows for certain what happens or how it might feel. And, I think regardless of how healthy someone is or their age, it is easy to start asking questions about whether ones life has been lived to the fullest and what they would change if they had the opportunity to do so.

And then there is Dor himself, who for six thousand years is made to see the consequences of his actions.

The Time Keeper is an interesting and touching fable, easily read and bound to appeal to a broad audience. A great read, but be warned, it made me cry ...