Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: The Clock of Life

The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren
From the Publisher...

In the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, during the 1980's, Jason Lee Rainey struggles to find his way amongst the old, steadfast Southern attitudes about race, while his friendship with a black boy, Samson Johnson, deepens. 

By way of stories from others, Jason Lee learns about his larger-than-life father, who was killed in Vietnam. He longs to become that sort of man, but doesn't believe he has it in him. 

In The Clock Of Life he learns lessons from the past, and the realities of inequality. He flourishes with the bond of friendship; endures the pain of senseless death; finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right; and comes to realize he is his father's son. 

This story explores how two unsettling chapters in American history, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, affect the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends.

From Me...

I have to be honest and confess that I am not usually a fan of character  pieces.  I understand the significance and value of this genre of writing, but I am generally more of a story girl who loves fast moving plots.  So when I agreed to review this book, I wasn't expecting to love.  When I got the book, I put it in my pile and left it there for a few weeks.  Then I picked it up and barely put it down.

The most compelling part of this book is the way Jason, the son, discovers himself while discovering his father through the father's long lost journals.  At one point, the reader is literally following the father and son simultaneously becoming the men they want to be.

As strongly as I felt about the beauty of the character of Jason, I felt equally as frustrated with the character of Jason's mother.  This may or may not have been intentional, but I was continually wanting to reach through the pages and grab her by the shoulders and shake her.  Good on the author for evoking strong emotions about her characters.

I can't talk about the characters of the book without at least mentioning the uncle.  Jason's uncle is generally endearing and sympathetic, though doomed to a tragic end as his fate is sealed before the book began.

This novel is all at once dramatic and poignant. I initially feared that a coming-of-age story would not develop quickly enough for me; however, I found the characters so engaging that the plot became secondary to their development.  This book is beautifully written and extremely appropriate given the  50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights march on the capital  This is a great reminder of the sacrifices made by everyone in the fight for civil rights, including those we remember and those we never knew.

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