Clock Dance by Ann Tyler

clockThe interesting thing about reading books and then reviewing them is that you need to figure out why you like it (or not) and then explain it. In my first year art history class, we went to the university’s art gallery. The professor said for us to look at the painting, and ask ourselves the question, do I like it or not? Not is it good or bad or whatever. And then you ask why. No answer is wrong because its what your thoughts are on the painting. I try to apply the same process to books, but it’s not that simple. Or, I am making it more difficult than it is (which is true to form for me).

One of the things that I am starting to appreciate having read books to review is that the simpler the story and characters, the better. Not saying that the book needs to be simple, but less is more to a certain extent. There doesn’t need to be a million characters or tons of action for the story to be interesting and moving. This ‘simplicity’ is the case in this book.

The story follows Willa Drake and the highs and lows of her life. But what the story is really about is the moments that define us – ok, that define Willa. And how those moments lead us to make decisions today.

This book is almost in two parts – the first half follows Willa and checks in on her almost every 10 years starting in 1967. The second half is set in ‘present day’ when she goes to take care of her son’s ex-girlfriend’s daughter for a short period of time. Without the first part, you don’t really get why she makes the decisions she does.

Although the premise is simple, the message and the undercurrents of the novel run deep. This is about family – the ones that you are physically related to and the ones we choose to be our family. It’s about community – what does being part of a community mean. And ultimately it’s about making choices, and sometimes you need to make the difficult choice to be happy.

I want to say this is a really nice book, but that sounds condescending. It’s a good book. It’s an endearing book. It’s one that you can take as much or as little as you like from it.

I gave it a 4/5 star rating on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from First to Read for a fair and honest review. Thanks to First to Read and Penguin Random House!

 

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