Book Review: If Morning Ever Comes

if morning ever comesI just finished reading If Morning Ever Comes (1964), Anne Tyler‘s first published novel. It takes place at Columbia University in New York City and in a small town in North Carolina, and what it shows the reader about family life and personal identity is as true today as it was fifty years ago. I was sucked into the story and found some peculiar incidents that reminded me of my own youth.

Ben Joe Hawkes, a law student at Columbia, squirms his way through the story as the only boy in a family full of girls. Since his father left and then died, he feels responsible for them. His mother, grandmother, and five sisters, along with a niece, all live in a large home that is ramshackle compared to the way he remembers it from his childhood. He is twenty-five when he decides to head home and check on things after the oldest sister leaves her husband in Kansas and returns home to a small North Carolina town.

When he arrives, nothing is quite the way Ben Joe remembers it. He doesn’t know what to do about it , either. When he is lying awake at night, unable to sleep, he stares at the ceiling and imagines everything upside down, walking on the ceiling and climbing through the door. I remember doing the same thing as a child.

When Ben Joe is away from his family, he remembers things in an idealized way. The real-time experience can’t possibly live up to the expectation. I know that feeling well. The ending is unexpected and yet makes complete sense. Ben Joe has been a bit lost, but manages to find himself by taking a leap of faith that morning will, eventually, come.


About Joan Marie Naszady

I am a learner, a teacher, and a naturalist who enjoys being creative!
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