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If Morning Ever Comes
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If Morning Ever Comes

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,971 ratings  ·  114 reviews
"A triumph."

HARPERS

Ben Joe Hawkes is a worrier. Raised by his mother, grandmother, and a flock of busy sisters, he's always felt the outsider. When he learns that one of his sisters has left her husband, he heads for home and back into the confusion of childhood memories and unforseen love....


From the Paperback edition.
Paperback, Large Print, 272 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1964)
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8th out of 30 books — 9 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,915)
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Jana
Oh my goodness...one of the most pointless books I've ever read, with an irritatingly disconnected main character who doesn't seem to understand anyone or anything in life, including himself. I never understood why he did or said anything, and he always seems to be in some sort of stupor that makes you feel like you're in a cloud yourself reading it, just grasping for something that makes sense! I couldn't relate to a thing in it and I'm not even sure why I finished it! Now that I know it was he ...more
Kay
Nov 21, 2011 Kay rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
In a recent New Yorker article Martin Amis wrote “When we say that we love a writer’s work, we are always stretching the truth: what we really mean is that we love about half of it.” I don’t agree with that as a general rule but it sums up my feelings about Anne Tyler pretty well. Some of her books I really love (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Back When We Were Grownups) and they’ve become a permanent part of my mental furniture. Others leave me cold (The Accidental Tourist, An ...more
Kellie
The author has definitely improved as a writer since she wrote this one. This is about Ben Joe and his family. Ben Joe is attending college in NY. He is studying to be a lawyer at Columbia. After learning one of his sister’s has left her husband and moved back home, he feels compelled to go home for a visit right in the middle of a semester. Home is Sandhill, NC. The family of 6 girls and 1 boy (Ben Joe), Mom and Grandma, is quirky at best. Some of the interactions amongst characters in this boo ...more
Underwhelmed
My mother (a babyboomer) introduced me to Tyler's books when I was 15. I've devoured them ever since. I read them before my marriage, while I was married, during my separation, and after my divorce. I've read some of her books 3 & 4 times. Screw those long winded writers of yesteryear that my private liberal arts college told me was brilliant: Tyler takes the cake! She's the woman (in my ridiculous opinion) that John Irving should have married. She would have eaten him alive--so, maybe not.
Rose
Anne Tyler’s debut novel tracks the self-realization of a young man whose character struggles to negotiate a balance between self-identity and family identity.

Tyler's characteristic wit and eccentricity of characters is shown right off the bat even in this first novel.

"Seems like you are always loving the people that fly away from you, Ben Joe, and flying away from the people that love you. But if you've decided, this once, to do something the other way, I'll be happy to agree."
Karen
This is Anne Tyler's first book, and her quirky style is already evident. I enjoyed meeting Ben Joe and his family of six sisters plus his mother and grandmother. Some people are born to write, and while the plot and characters here are not as intricate and multi-faceted as in her later books, we can see that Tyler had found her voice already.
Lucy
Sep 07, 2009 Lucy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: tyler fans
Shelves: readawhileago
I wanted to read her first novel since I have come to respect and enjoy her later works.

Anne Tyler was just 22 when she wrote this book and it's worth it just to see her picture, looking somewhat like a long haired Audrey Hepburn, on the dust cover.

The book doesn't have much of a plot. It's more like an intense character study of a southern family and the town they inhabit. Ben Joe Hawke wonders about time and place and where he fits in the cosmos. he leaves his law studies in NYC to make sure h
...more
Bill Krieger
I finished this bad boy on my Ty-Da baseball trip.

I heart Anne Tyler, and she's one of my favorite authors. This was her first published book. The writing style is wonderful, as usual, but there's really not much there. It's that and it really hurts that the main character isn't very interesting or appealing.

Hey, Anne says it best.

QOTD
"The reviews I don't remember, except that one person said the book was 'about as exciting as a cucumber sandwich,' which hurt my feelings at the time but now seem
...more
Nereia
You say the best when you say nothing at all

Il modo in cui Anne Tyler riesce sempre a dire qualcosa, a trasmettere qualcosa, non raccontando mai nulla di speciale mi stupisce ogni volta che prendo in mano un suo libro.
Se mai verrà il mattino è il suo primo romanzo e, nonostante lo stile un po' acerbo, è riuscito ad avvolgermi in un caldo abbraccio così come tutti gli altri suoi romanzi che ho avuto il piacere di divorare. Sì, perché la Tyler ha la capacità di entrarmi dentro e accarezzarmi il cu
...more
Ashlie
This is the first book that I have read by Anne Tyler: I picked it up on a whim having never heard of her because I came across many of her novels at a book sale and reviews of her work seemed good. I was not terribly impressed by this one, but after finding out this was her first novel, and she wrote it at 22 I may give her another whirl.

Ben Joe is the only son in a house filled with women: mom, sisters, and grandmother. When he finds out that his oldest sister has left her husband to come back
...more
Estrella Esparza-johnson
The last book I read by Anne Tyler was "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" when I was in seventh grade. It was great to reaquaint myself with Ms. Tyler's work. I enjoyed the inner-workings of Ben Joe Hawkes, being an introvert myself. The craziness of his family was authentic and clear, basically anyone who has a family can find something in this work.
Sull
Jan 12, 2009 Sull rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sull by: My mother bought it for me.
I read this back when I was a teen-ager, and AT's style really caught me, though I didn't get her themes then at all. I still love her gentle style (so low-key)and now sometimes get her themes: the power of family, the powerlessness of love, the longing for independence from both. . . .
tina
Jan 05, 2009 tina added it
someone reviewed the book saying it was as exciting as a cucumber sandwich. i like cucumber sandwiches. they're crispy, refreshing, and especially nice with cream cheese and tomato. Not in my top five, but i'm happy i read it & I would read more of her work.
Marcia
I would rate this a 3.5 if I could. I have always enjoyed Anne Tyler's books and she is one of my "go to" authors when I'm undecided what to read. I grabbed this book to take on vacation. I enjoyed it, but it was not as captivating as some of the others I have read and was not set in Baltimore, like most of hers are. It was filled with interesting, eclectic characters and situations but just didn't seem as well developed. However, when I read the author interview at the end of the book I discove ...more
Pat
Aug 19, 2010 Pat rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
I love this author, she does wonderful character studies. This was her first book, which I somehow missed. She was in her 20's when she wrote it. Excellent!
Kristi
This book didn't quite make me want to hang myself with my own hair, but it came close. It was sort of an unsettling, vaguely depressing short story (are there any others?) writ large; I felt at times like I did when I was 15 years old and it was a rainy winter Saturday afternoon at MaMaw and PaPaw's house in Garden City and I was "trapped" there by lack of a driver's license and the thought that that in fact might be how I would have to spend the rest of my entire life. Who knows, though? That ...more
Anthony
Nov 18, 2012 Anthony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Summer Cottage Readers
It was a dear friend of mine that introduced me to this author. He's actually a big fan of Anne Tyler. And after reading another novel, this one, and others in waiting, I can completely understand why. They are a pleasure to read.

Being introduced to Ben Joe Hawkes, I have to say, I've never come across a main character like this one before. He's a worrier, socially awkward, overbearing, but never seems to have the courage to truly say exactly what's on his mind. Unmotivated, discouraged, introve
...more
Kathleen S
Ben Jo, a Southern boy, who grew up in a household of women, is cold and misses his family, as he adjusts to boring law school classes in NYC. Letters from his sister leave out the details he wants about his family, so he suddenly hops on a train to see what is really happening and to see if they need him. But they don't need him as life has gone on just fine without him. Being home does not make him happier.

Ben Jo's family is a wonderful conglomeration of unusual people. At this point in his li
...more
Denise
I picked up this book at the library solely on the strength of Ann Tyler's
name. She's a pulitzer prize winner after all. What I didn't know was
that this is her first novel. Clearly! She still has her great writing style,
maybe not quite as developed, but the story was definitely lacking. I
thought the characters were complex and interesting, but nothing ever
really happens. Oh well. It's good to know how far she's come from such
humble beginnings.
Lorraine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Michele
I enjoy going back and reading an author's debut book and getting to know how that author has matured since starting out on his or her career. Anne Tyler's first book, If Morning Ever Comes, is a journey into that history and also a journey into a time period from my past and I enjoyed the experience of revisiting 1964. I was about ten years younger than the main character, Ben Joe, but I still remember the time without cell phones and the ability to take off around town and be on your own disco ...more
Marilyn
Anne, Anne, Anne...couldn't you have had this recalled? I know you were only 22 when you wrote it, but really?? Here I've been acting as the self-proclaimed president of your fan club all these years, and I never knew you had an ugly skeleton book in a closet somewhere...I need to cleanse my palate by reading one of your tried and true--get right back up on the horse...
Kathy Szydlo
Ben Joe Hawkes suddenly leaves his law studies in New York and takes the train home to North Carolina to check up on his family, which consists of his mother, grandmother and 6 sisters. Probably taking place in the late 50's or 60's, as the only male Ben Joe is considered the head of the family. A combination of his dislike of law school and New York, homesickness, and his feeling that he's not getting all the news about his family's activities prompts the sudden visit. There's not much action i ...more
Lynne
Apr 02, 2012 Lynne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who don't need "shiny-bow" endings
Recommended to Lynne by: myself
Shelves: literary, manners, realism
At the tender age of 22 and with her first novel, Anne Tyler already had "the stuff." Even then she was able to create protagonists who aren't always easy to like, but they keep trying to make sense out of the mess that is human experience, and they are so carefully drawn that, even if you wouldn't have coffee with them, you want them to find some answers and some degree of contentment.

How much is our identity tied up in our family, and how much of it do we own for ourselves? I don't know if Be
...more
Carmen
Just reread this book and am impressed again about how well Anne Tyler writes. This was her debut novel, about a young man on the brink of adulthood. He is attending college far from home and runs away one week to visit his family and deal with its issues. He has 6 sisters, his mom and his grandma all living together. Dad has died, but only after leaving the family for another woman. The protagonist, Ben Joe, is trying to decide what to do with his life. He discovers that a trip home was not the ...more
Loraxe
I didn't love this story, but I have to give credit to such a young writer for such detailed character study. If I hadn't already, it would definitely lead me to look up more of her work.
Paula
Ben Joe 'goes home' to his eclectic family; and re-connects with his HS ghirlfriend. . Tolerance and love.

His sister: "I always did like first dates, I was good at them. I knew how to act and what to say… by the time I was ready to come in, I'd have them all the way in love with me. Once they loved me, what was I supposed to do then?"

Ben Joe: The trouble is, I'm reversible. I don't guesss you're hardly alive if you're as reversible as I am.

If by chance you changed your mind about leaving Kansas
...more
Shelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debby
This is Anne Tyler's debut novel written in 1964. I needed a break from the series I've been reading and this filled that slot.
Terri
I love Anne Tyler and find her books in general to be a really comforting and soothing read. This book provides some insight into a rather odd family, who are totally charming aside from their strangeness. The only character I found hard to relate to is the mother, who despite a very thick shell of defences, loves her family and does her best to provide support (in her case, financial but not emotional). The emotional support burden has landed on the eldest and only son, Ben Joe, and this book i ...more
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Anne Tyler 1 3 Jul 24, 2014 10:12PM  
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and ...more
More about Anne Tyler...
The Accidental Tourist Breathing Lessons Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Digging to America Saint Maybe

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