Author: Nancy Klann-Moren
Genre: Historical Fiction
First Published: 2012
Page Count: 354
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 3/5 Stars
The story slumps in the beginning but manages to salvage itself in the end with some moving scenes about our nation’s struggle with the issue of racism.
*Moving look at troubling time in America’s past
*Really long, slow beginning *Abrupt ending
“Jason Lee, the clock of life’s always tickin towards the funeral parlor.” It’s the 1980s in the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, and Jason Lee Rainey is hit with the everyday reality that his friendship with his best friend, Samson Johnson, and any other interaction with someone of the African-American race is considered just as atrocious as murder to most of the residents in his hometown. Not only must Jason try to rise above the obvious racism, he also struggles to follow in the footsteps of the freedom fighting, veteran father he never got to meet.
I did end up enjoying this book by the end but not tremendously. I struggled trying to figure out where it fit in with other books I’ve enjoyed and what it was that made me like it enough to recommend. I realized it reminded me of some of the better books I was assigned to read in high school about serious issues like race equality. I’d begrudgingly start reading the book, hardly finding any interest in the story at all. It was only when the author hit you with shocking scenes that reinforce their theme that you really see the point of the book. The same goes with The Clock of Life. There are more than a few really harsh scenes the author uses to illustrate how tough times were for someone of color in the south. It sharpens the story into focus so that you can’t help but become invested.
The sad thing is, it takes awhile in the story to get to these intense scenes. The story plods along and you can foresee the undertones of racism that will define the book but there isn’t really anything to grab your attention. The fact that the majority of the book is just average really drags down the review score for me. It was just too hum drum for my taste. The other problem I had with it was the ending. You can tell by the number of pages in your page-flipping hand that you’re reaching the end, but the main character is just starting to discover some new pivotal information that he’s been searching for the entire book. I can see that this sets it up for a potential sequel but it could have been drawn out a little better. The book feels like it just cuts off instead of leaving you either at a wrapped up ending or at a satisfying cliff hanger (if there is such a thing). It just didn’t feel like a proper conclusion.
The majority of this book didn’t wow me so there’s that to consider when you read this review. But there’s also the fact that the author really hits some high notes with some of the ending scenes in the book and gets the message across about how rough times were in the 1980s. I could easily see this being assigned in high school for students to learn about the Civil Rights Movement through fictional literature. It may not be my first choice of a book for a purely entertaining read, but it definitely is a great pick if you’re looking for a book with something deeper to teach us.
*I received a free copy of this book for this review from the author.