I have been a fan of Mitch Albom since I read Tuesday’s with Morrie in college. Since then I have read all of his books. I eagerly awaited the release of The Timekeeper and when I saw it in my local bookstore pounced on it like a cat pouncing its dinner prey.
The Time Keeper is a fable about the first man to count the hours of the day, who would later be known as Father Time. As a result of his transgression the man is banished to a cave for thousands of years (6000 to be exact) to think about what he has done — now that’s a pretty serious time out. During this banishment he is also forced to listen to the earthly voices constantly asking for more time. Father Time is finally set free from the cave only to go to earth and teach two people the meaning of time and in teaching them he ultimately saves himself.
The Time Keeper introduces the reader to the three main characters: Dor, Sarah Lemon and Victor Delamonte. The story begins with Dor in what can be presumed to be ancient Mesopotamia. Dor’s name is Hebrew and means “generation or period of time,” which is quite befitting as he spends 6000 years and generation after generation in a cave listening to people’s pleas for more time.
Albom begins Chapter 2 with:
This is a story about time. (TK7)
Unfortunately, I didn’t really see where the novel really focused on time. It did focus a lot on a typical or rather stereotypical teenage girl, Sarah. She’s super smart, overweight and has few friends. She develops a typical teenage crush, which is one-sided. And she feels it’s the end of the world because he doesn’t reciprocate.
The novel also deals a lot with Victor, a dying wealthy man who is determined to cheat death. The reader sees him or rather the people that work for him doing research on ways in which he can cheat death. We see him throwing around a lot of money in order to accomplish this seemingly impossible task.
The reader does see Dor interacting with Sarah and Victor, but there are no lessons being taught on the importance of time, savoring the time you have on earth or explaining why our time on earth is finite. The reader learns toward the end of the novel:
There is a reason God limits our days. (Dor)
To make each one precious. (TK 206) (Dor)
That’s it. That’s the only lesson they get — we get. Perhaps the only lesson needed. But there was nothing to show how Sarah, Victor, or the people of earth in general waste their time or don’t make the most of it or how we let it slip right through our fingers.
There is very little character development and in actuality the characters of Sarah and Victor de-evolve over the course of the novel.
Perhaps my biggest complaint of all with The Time Keeper is how towards the end it turns into a Christmas Carol with Dor (The Third Ghost that we associate with the Reaper) shows Victor (Ebenezer Scrooge) and Sarah (Tiny Tim) what their lives and their families lives would be if they continued on their current path.
The Time Keeper is typical Mitch Albom, but at the same time not what I have grown to know and love. Typical in the sense that his writing is clear, concise, and flawless. I love his short staccato sentences. I loved how he went from Dor to Sarah to Victor and back again. It’s a novel you can sit down and read in one sitting — a couple of hours. Even though it lacks a strong plot line and has static characters it was clear what he is trying to get across — make the most of the time you have here on the earth.
I don’t think I could ever
imagine a life without time keeping. (TK 8)
I did, however, get that a strong sense of people wanting to run away from their problems. Dor runs away from the potential death of his beloved wife, Alli. Sarah attempts to runaway from love not being reciprocated. Victor wants to run away from his illness. Not sure if this is what Albom wanted the reader to take away, but that’s what I really took away from The Time Keeper.