Monday, July 8, 2013

{Review} The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren

ISBN #: 978-0988494411
Page Count: 364
Copyright: November 12, 2012
Publisher: AnthonyAnn Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

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.

Our Combined Review:
This review is a compilation of Mandy's, Kathy's, and Charlene's thoughts

Yes, lovely followers, the three reviewers of Literary R&R have decided to come together, read the same book, and create a compiled review of all of our thoughts. This is the first time we've done this so we're hoping it turns out well. Let's begin, shall we?

Within the first few chapters of reading, the setting and premise of The Clock of Life seemed familiar to us. Many authors seem to be rejuvenating the "black versus white" theme in their stories, especially set in the Old South. The summary states the book is set during the 1980's but the writing style misleads the reader into feeling the story is much older than that, perhaps the 1960's or 1970's.

As far as the premise is concerned, Kathy's thoughts are that there are a ton of stories that start out the same way this one does: There's a kid who makes friends and enemies on his first day of school. Of course the friends that he makes are some of the more unpopular kids, which just makes him a bigger target to the bullies.

Jason Lee lives with his mother and Uncle. His mother, Cassie, has been widowed for quite some time. Her husband, Jason Lee's namesake, was killed in Selma during the 1960's. All of us would have appreciated knowing more about Jason Lee's father. His notebook was a great way to introduce what he did and thought, but we do not feel as if it were enough. The book makes Jason Lee's father out to be a hero, but Kathy was less than impressed with his continued use of the word "douchebag" and wonders if people even used that word during the 1960's.

Mooks is Jason Lee's Uncle and Cassie's twin brother. He was in the Vietnam War and came back injured. He now lives with Cassie and Jason Lee. Every day he sits on the porch carving the "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" monkeys. Mandy wants to know what the significance of the monkeys are. The book briefly touches on them, but doesn't really delve into the why of it. All three reviewers would have loved to see Uncle Mooks fleshed out more. There just seemed to be a depth to him that wasn't explored.

We are going to try to discuss something that bothered us without giving too much of the story away ... There is a death that takes place in the book. We were slightly confused by it as it doesn't make sense. Based on the time period and the segregation of Hadlee, the incident that ignited the chain of events leading up to the death feels wrong. We don't believe that initial event would have taken place. If the death was inserted into the story to help make Jason Lee grow into a more manly mind frame, then Mandy feels as if a death closer to home would have been a better choice. The stage for such a death was set, but was then removed.

The oppression in Jason Lee's background resonated within Charlene. She feels as if he was almost doomed from the beginning due to dealing with his daddy's death, his Uncle Mooks' mental struggle (thanks to the Vietnam War), and the racial influence of the South. Despite those hindrances, Charlene feels that the author did a great job of introducing just enough hope and insight to a better future to keep the story from becoming dark. She enjoyed this novel. As a parent of a "mixed breed" child, Charlene has experienced some of the learned hatred that still permeates our world and remains hopeful for a more tolerable future.

Overall, all three ladies seemed to enjoy the novel, although it may not be a book one or two of them will re-read any time soon. For a burgeoning writer, The Clock of Life is a good start. Perhaps with a few re-writes it could become something great and turned into a "must read."

*A paperback copy of this novel was provided by the author to all three reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

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