The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom is a short novella about the story of Father Time and his call to redirect the lives of two people who most require it in their own personal battle with time.
It is the story of Dor, the first measurer of things, obsessed with the tally of his knowledge who is then banished to a liminal cave where he must live in “solitude” and listen in to the voices of people who cry out in suffering throughout the ages.
It is also a story of the character, Sarah Lemon, an insecure teenager whose personal rejection at school and in particular, by a boy whom she has feelings for, pushes her to attempt and unthinkable and desperate act.
While the character, Victor Delamonte, a successful and wealthy businessman struggles against a terminal illness that compels him to attempt to resist death and prolong time altogether as a direct result of his power, influence, ambition, and sense of control.
The story is somewhat scarce in its narrative, sometimes over-simplified or over-generalized in an attempt to articulate what hasn’t been named or imaginary. It’s periodically formal in its tone, which is aside from being perhaps the author, Mitch Albom’s writing style, is also a way in which the author may intend to emphasize the drama and significance of the story’s message.
While the polarity of the two above characters are stereotypical, which almost borderline cliché, the message of the book is an important one as evident in such passages as:
…Time is not something you give back. The very next moment may be an answer to your prayer. To deny that is to deny the most important part of the future.” – p.195
“Everything man does today to be efficient, to fill the hour?” Dor said. “It does not satisfy. It only makes him hungry to do more. Man wants to own his existence. But no one owns time.” – p.208
And yet while these messages are crucial to our knowledge and understanding—even wisdom—they themselves on being overtly and directly told to the characters, rather than shown in the narrative through action or implied subtlety, also fall to the danger of cliché.
The book is more an inspirational vignette than a novel: being only 228 pages long on 5 1/4″ x 7 1/2″ paper and a story that wishes to instill faith in a nugget of wisdom that is already known and understood, but often unfulfilled without conscious effort and wilful direction.
Which makes this book a kind reminder toward that idealism of time and the importance of its balance and quality over quantity. Kudos to Mitch Albom for aspiring to inspire his readers towards hope and faith without the weight or dogma sometimes associated with religion. This book is inclusive to all and can easily be read by anyone.
While the intention of the work is admirable and its message important, I would have preferred a more concrete narrative and a richer portrayal of the characters that would deter them from becoming an over-generalized representation rather than authentic and compelling characters who command the reader’s attention, empathy, and applause.
Is The Time Keeper worth the time to read? Sure. Just don’t stop any clocks for it and expect a life-changing epiphany. Take it as it is: a kind reminder to slow down and be present in the precious value of the moment.
Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet