Book Review: Mitch Albom's "The Time Keeper"
In bestselling author Mitch Albom’s new novel “The Time Keeper,” he dares readers: “Try to imagine a life without timekeeping.”
“The Time Keeper” attempts to discover what people would change if they could control time. Albom focuses on the origin of Father Time and how he must return to Earth to save an old man and a teenage girl.
The character Dor becomes “Father Time” after he creates the first ways to measure time. Dor is banished into a cave to be bombarded with all of Earth’s pleas about time – to get more, to stop, to slow down…
Two particular characters stand out from the din – Sarah Lemon, a seventeen-year-old with way too many problems, and Victor Delamonte, a man dying from cancer who also happens to be the fourteenth-richest man in the world.
None of Albom’s novels have centered around a female character until “The Time Keeper.” However, even though a teenage girl is one of the main characters, she still has to share the stage with two other men.
The problem with Albom’s first female main character venture is that she is as victimized as they come. Poor Lemon is bullied, used, neglected and suicidal (understandably so after the adolescent hell Albom puts her through). Sarah is incredibly gifted but desperate for love and attention, which eventually gets her into trouble with one of the most popular boys in high school.
Albom does not allow Sarah to be both beautiful and intelligent – she is only the latter, not the former. She is an outcast because she is a science whiz. Everyone at school is mean to Sarah because her eyes are “too far apart,” her wavy hair is “dry,” and her “flesh” is “doughy.” Sarah’s father does not speak to her and her mother does not have a clue how to talk to her. Sarah is an ugly loner who nobody likes. Give the poor girl a break.
In the end though, Albom does not allow Sarah to be a total lost cause. But it is safe to say that this author has yet to write a strong lead female character in one of his novels.
A minor female character in “The Time Keeper” is Dor’s wife, Alli. Their love story is quite beautiful, and it is a shame that it does not get more attention. Dor’s every action and thought revolves around his wife and finding a way to return to her. Their love seems boundless and real – a stark contrast to Victor Delamonte’s marriage with his wife Grace.
Looking at the bigger picture of “The Time Keeper,” this novel falters in its multiple point-of-view changes. The jarring point-of-view changes get distracting at times, especially when Albom alters from going back and forth between the three main characters by tossing in two other minor characters’ POVs or omnipresent thoughts from no one in particular.
Albom also utilizes the curious technique of bolding sentences throughout chapters. Sometimes Albom bolds the first sentence in a paragraph. Sometimes he bolds a few words at the beginning of a sentence. After 222 pages of seemingly random bolded sentences and words, it starts to feel more like a gimmick than a meaningful literary technique.
However, even all of the flash-forwards, back tracks, time freezes, and It’s A Wonderful Life-like montages do not muddle up the overall inspiring message of the book.
Albom writes, “Man alone measures time… and, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”
In “The Time Keeper,” Albom dares readers to stop keeping time. When people assert power over time by measuring it with clocks, they are essentially ruining the beauty in a moment, destroying the organic flow of the Earth. Albom wonders if moments really were meant to have a beginning and an end and what kind of freedom people would live in if they had ‘all the time in the world.’
Despite its flaws, Albom’s “The Time Keeper” is a quick read that offers valid thoughts on living in a timeless world.
What would you do if your life wasn’t scheduled?
What would you do if you weren’t dreading a deadline?
What would you do if time didn’t exist?
In the words of Father Time, “when you are measuring life, you are not living it. I know.”