May 3, 2013

The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren

Back then I thought going for help was the right thing to do, but I wasn't so sure anymore. Figuring out what's right and wrong seemed as hard as holding on to water.
-from The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren

The Clock of Life by Nancy Klann-Moren is a fictional account of real life struggles in the south after the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War. During this time of great change, Jason Lee Rainey is growing up amidst racial tension in Hadlee, Mississippi in the shadow of his late father, a passionate white Civil Rights activist who died in the Vietnam War. Jason Lee has same convictions as his father but he is faced with the brutal evidence of continued racism all around him. With a vibrant cast of characters, including his widowed mother and disabled uncle, Jason Lee tries to reconcile if he has the same strength to make a difference as his father, knowing very little of his father at all.

This novel is a simple read but powerful in its content. Klann-Moren does an excellent job of addressing a serious subject from the perspective of a boy who grows into a young man, making a difficult topic easier to discuss under the guise of Jason Lee's ignorance and naivete. I especially appreciated the depth of all of the characters, especially Jason Lee's mother and her struggle of repressing her grief for many years after losing her husband so young. Similarly, Jason Lee's Uncle Mooks gives a dimension of unexpected wisdom that is special to his character. I found that Klann-Moren really has a talent for developing these special characters and then blending them to learn and relate to each other.

Jason Lee's journey to learn about his father and develop his own opinions and convictions is endearing and powerful. Without coming off as too perfect of a kid (I mean, he does rip off vending machines with counterfeit quarters and drink moonshine with his buddy), Jason Lee has a drive for justice and compassion that separates him from the norm of racist white people from this era. His struggle to reconcile right from wrong and deal with the startlingly serious consequences of doing what he thinks is "right" makes Jason Lee a protagonist any reader can get behind.

My only major complaint is that The Clock of Life ended a little more abruptly than I would have liked and I wish I knew what became of Jason Lee Rainey. Perhaps the author wants the reader to wonder and appreciate that because of kids like Jason Lee in the post-Civil Rights era we hardly even think about race upon meeting a person today. I'd like to imagine the character of Jason Lee went on to do all the things he wanted to do to make our world a more tolerable and loving place to live.

Bottom Line: A great read for anyone, teen through adult, especially if you like Civil Rights era literature. 4/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. i love history, so i think i would love this one. i just bought some books last week and have read 2 out of 5. one is where we belong by emily giffin, and it gave me heartache. ha. have you read that one?


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