The Time Keeper
This is the story of conflict between an adolescent boy and his mother, written mostly (but not entirely) in the boy’s voice. It is a story lived in general, if not in detail, by the author, who tells us of the reconciliation between them that came about only when the mother moved painfully toward an early death from cancer.
The author’s message is powerful. The repair of a dysfunctional mother-son relationship involves a willingness to risk and the courage to persist in the face of anger and resentment. The mother’s need for reconciliation gave her sufficient courage.
The reader can understand that the boy has accumulated hurt through the mother’s failures, and that he fears more pain. Still, he often is a puzzle. Why did he so often remain silent, even when his silence led to dire and unfair consequences? Many readers will not comprehend a mother who verbally abuses and alienates a son during the vulnerable adolescent years, especially since the dynamics and the origin of her anger are not clear. The father is portrayed as a rather silent, aloof man. It is not apparent whether he simply did not recognize his wife’s distress and the harm she heaped on their son, or whether he was aware but uncaring or ineffective.
The author successfully creates the worldview of a teenager who vacillates between longing and resentment, between confusion and rebellion. Perhaps his failure to develop the mother and father fully, so that a reader understands and cares about them, is due to his fidelity to adolescent eyes. He is most successful when he takes the reader into the sick room and describes the tender, awful times when the boy takes care of his dying mother.
How well does the author write? He paced his story well. He keeps the reader turning the pages. He writes well most but not all of the time. Possibly his skill is masked by a teenager’s voice, and I believe his talent will develop more fully as he continues to write. To my liking, less would be more … forego overdone descriptions. And pay attention to details. Spelling and punctuation do matter.
As the mother of sons, I cannot comprehend the mean and spiteful treatment by the mother of her son, but then I’ve never had cancer or faced a premature death. My recommendation – the book deserves more careful copy editing. To the author, your writing voice holds promise… write and write and write.
This is an imperfect but moving book. The general reader will not put it down unread, and will indeed carry away vivid images of a confused, hurting boy and a mother who failed him until her death was imminent. The message of redemption is powerful. Mature adolescents might read it, though the dying of the mother may not be appropriate for all.