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The Home for Wayward Clocks Book Review

Updated on January 24, 2016

Brief Synopsis

James saved a small town from bankruptcy when he created his clock museum. Yet, he has no emotional connection to the townspeople. He only cares about rescuing clocks and returning them to their former glory.

Home for Wayward Clocks Tackles the Emotional Scars from Child Abuse

I admit it. I am drawn to odd book titles. So, when I saw this title, I knew I had to see what it read it. After all, how could a clock become wayward?

This novel attempts to tackle serious themes particularly those surrounding abuse. Our main character has been abused in a horrible way. That abuse leads him to shut himself off from the most of the outside world. He finds solace in in the world of clocks--and only clocks.

It's not hard to wonder if this type of emotional wound could really be healed. This novel explores just that.

James was an expert with old clock towers such as the one depicted here
James was an expert with old clock towers such as the one depicted here | Source

The Gist of the Story

In this story, we meet James, the man who runs the clock museum in a small town. He is an unusual man. He keeps to himself. He spends all of his time with his clocks, tending to them, rescuing them from careless owners, and repairing them. Taking care of them takes all his waking hours.

Why is James so enamored of clocks? They are the only thing he trusts. When James was a child the two people he should have counted on the most betrayed him...his parents. One abused him horribly, the other turned away and allowed it to happen. His only solace was a clock in the basement. That clock became his only friend and it opened up a very small world for him.

That may sound like an incredibly sad plot line. I have to admit that the sections about his abuse are hard to take. They are almost unreal. However, recent news stories about children being held in horrible conditions by their parents and others tells me that this plot line is not so far fetched. Sometimes humans do incredibly horrid things to one another.

Character Growth

But, this story isn't just about James' trauma. It is about his growth and evolution. The author goes between past and present, laying a foundation that shows us why he is the way he is. I have to admit there are times when I didn't like the adult version of James at all, but as the story unfolds you realize how deep his pain is and you begin to feel for him. One of the ways the author uses to endear us to James is to tell us the stories of the clocks he has saved. Every one has a story and that story leads eventually to someone getting rid of the clock which he rescues. When you realize how much life he breathes into these inanimate objects, you feel bad because you realize the reader is the only one who cares about James. No one else can get through the harsh exterior.

One Man Felt Passionately About This Story

Large publishers passed on this book. Did the book make them too uncomfortable?

Scott Douglass, of Main Street Rag Publishing, tells us how this book touched him, why he decided to publish it, and why he thinks the others made a mistake.

James especially love old, forgotten clocks
James especially love old, forgotten clocks | Source

Difficult to Put Down and to Forget

This was one of those books I was sad to see end. I wanted to know what happens next, where the characters ended up. It was that good! It's not easy to put this book aside and forget about it. I found myself pondering the different aspects of abuse and how it damages people. I wondered if it's possible to heal from this kind of pain and betrayal. It took several days before I could start another book. It almost haunted me.

This book may not be appropriate for people who have a hard time with the topic of child abuse. Some scenes are emotionally brutal. Though they are important to the story, they are uncomfortable to be included in on. It would be easy to put the book down and walk away. But, I don't think you'd be able to forget it. It nagged at the corner of my thoughts and I couldn't read anything else until it was done with me.

Short Stories within a Novel

This book has one main story. Then, each section has a short story about the clock that is represented in that part of the plot. Sometimes these stories were a bit unsettling.

My Conclusion

Child abuse can happen anywhere. There is no family or community untouched by it. Perhaps reading these stories will provide us with clues on how to prevent it and how to help the victims heal.

I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who looks for novels that cover the topics we tend to not want to talk about, the stuff we sweep under the carpets and hide in the closets so no one will know. It's also for those who enjoy stories with characters in conflict who grow over the course of the story. The author put a lot of effort into character development and it clearly shows!

Finding Fish: A Memoir
Finding Fish: A Memoir

This is the true story of one man's abusive childhood and how he rose above it.


A Real Story of Abuse

Since the Home for Wayward Clocks is a novel, it's easy to say "Well, that's just something the author thought up. It's not a real story." I would say there is some truth to that.

If you want to delve deeper into this topic, the story of Antwone Fisher is a must read. Fisher documents the abuse he received at the hands of his foster parents. He then shows that a child can overcome even the worst abuse. The story may sound familiar as there was a movie based on Fisher's life.

© 2014 Melody Lassalle

Do you think you'd like to read the Home for Wayward Clocks?

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    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 3 years ago from California

      Diane, thanks for your comment! It was such a unique story. The author did a good job building the characters and making you feel as if you knew them.

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      I love a good book, and Wayward Clocks sounds like a really good book. Thanks for the tip.