Book review: Mitch Albom's 'The Time Keeper' unique and inspiring

By Margot Hovley

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 15 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"THE TIME KEEPER," by Mitch Albom, Hyperion, $24.99, 224 pages (f)

Mitch Albom, best selling author of "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," returns to fiction with a unique and inspiring new book titled "The Time Keeper."

In the spirit of "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," his new novel is a modern fable, telling an engrossing story while teaching a moral principle at the same time. But don't let the thought of a lesson to be learned put you off. The story hooks the reader well, and keeps the pages turning to find out what happens.

Albom's style — the spare prose, the somewhat choppy flow of words — is recognizable in "The Time Keeper." Despite the briefness of description, a clear picture is painted of the three main characters: Dor, the peasant boy who "invents" the concept of time; Sarah, the teenager reeling from the fallout of her parents' divorce; and Victor, the calculating executive who believes he's found a way to cheat fate.

The three stories alternate, developing as separate story lines until they finally intersect. It's unusual to see paragraph headings in bold in a novel, but most readers will become accustomed to this unique convention and accept it.

The characters of Sarah and Victor are stereotypical. There's nothing particularly new about a teenager who feels awkward and unloved and will do practically anything for acceptance from a crush. Or the hardened wealthy businessman, who's forgotten the sweetness he had in youth and makes selfish choices. But perhaps this is by design. These characters become the everyman and stand as a warning to all of us.

Dor's character is creative and fresh. The common images of Father Time is an old man with long, flowing hair and beard, clutching an hourglass. But in "The Timekeeper," Albom shows the imagined beginning of Father Time — a rustic child who is the first of the human race to count things and keep track of the passage of time. This becomes his obsession, to the point where his life completely changes and takes on the role of the symbol of time's passage.

Once again, Albom takes a simple concept and creates a story that show a new aspect of it to ponder. There's a bit of sadness, a bit of thoughtfulness, and an ending that changes the common notions of time and how it is spent..

Albom's website is at www.mitchalbom.com.

Margot Hovley's first novel will be published by Covenant Communications in fall 2012. Her self-reliance blog is at www.mynewoldschool.com or she blogs about her writing adventures at www.margothovley.com.

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