Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Book Review: The Time Keeper

It has been quite a while since I've regularly walked on my treadmill for exercise, thus I haven't been consuming audio books much. It was a bit of a hard start for this book, Mitch Albom's The Time Keeper, because I only listened to the first disc in two installments on days when it was too rainy to walk the track and really my mind was on my novel, so I didn't get into the start of this story very well. But, once I finished my novel and devoted more daily walk time on the treadmill, I was thoroughly sucked into this story and enjoyed the process of thinking about our obsession with time and the length of our days.

Perhaps, I felt more connected to the story because of unique circumstances, as well. I have a friend, a woman who taught a theory class with me at our annual music camp here in Indiana, who has just been given two weeks to live. I have been putting myself in her shoes quite a bit over the last few days and have been aching for her and her family. It is especially hard because she will leave behind a teenage son who is really seeking his way in the world and a seven year old daughter (a spunky little red-headed girl) who cannot understand what is about to happen in her life. She also leaves two other daughters, a husband, and a grandson. Even though their faith is strong, and my friend is anxious to escape a failing body and be united with the Lord, it is still a difficult scenario.

This story begins with the first human to think about and create tools for measuring the passage of time, a man the author calls Dor (which I swear, sounded more like Daw, in the British lilt of the narrator of the audio version). Dor is obsessed with time and is fascinated by the many ways you can track time. But when he creates a sun dial, he is visited by a supernatural being who eventually places Dor in a cave and makes him into a Father Time figure. After an endless sentence of sitting in the cave, listening to the voices of people in the world, the supernatural being puts a mission before Father Time. He is required to return to Earth to find two of the people whose voices he has heard, and to intersect with their stories in a meaningful way.

The two individuals Dor encounters are quite different. One is a teenage girl who is anxiously awaiting a date with a boy she is crazy about. The other is a multimillionaire man who is facing immanent death from cancer and wanting to somehow secure more time. As the story progresses, the reader's heart is tugged by the girl's plight and the man's schemes. Dor must learn his own lessons while teaching these two individuals something about the value of our limited days.

These three stories all merge to teach valuable lessons about our perspectives on time. We tend to wish for more time or wish to draw out time, but there is a reason and purpose in the length of our days. God limits our days to make each one more precious and we should focus more on using the time wisely than in wishing for more of it.

I thought the ending was a bit too neatly wrapped up, but it was still a fitting conclusion that enhanced the theme. I didn't find the story smarmy at all (the criticism commonly voiced at our book club meeting discussing another Mitch Albom book) and thought the takeaway was a valuable one. If you are looking for an inspirational look at the value of your days, you might wish to pick up this little volume (only 4 CDs in audio length). In my opinion, Mitch Albom has a gift for presenting thought-provoking tales.

No comments: