J. King's Reviews > A Time to Tell

A Time to Tell by Maria Savva
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's review
Mar 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: ebooks, fiction-memoir
Read from April 08 to July 04, 2010

I struggled a great deal with this book: I was slow getting into it; the characters at times seemed to behave randomly; I found numerous missed story opportunities (e.g., that looking after Cara might have been just the thing to treat Tom's depression, that Cara might have required a fundamental shift in how she saw herself before she forgave Gloria); some of the prose felt overly expositional (sequences of "Who cares?" with bits of "Wow!" in between); I often felt the characters changed their perspectives with little provocation; coincidental meetings piled implausibly one upon the other, pushing the plot along.

But in another way, this book represents the best quality indie fiction has to offer, that is says something about real life. Real people react to their perceived needs, but we usually don't know what those needs are. We think we do, but we're usually wrong. So they appear to react randomly, and they often react counter to their own good sense. This story is a picture of what can happen when distance is allowed to dominate a family. We get used to it, forget that it can be any different, and always blame everyone else for our part in perpetuating it.

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Reading Progress

04/13/2010 page 15
4.93% "An awkward tense switch on p. 15. So far, no heroes in this story."
04/13/2010 page 38
12.5% "Hmm... Maria's telling the story out of order, and when you put it back in order, I'm not sure it makes sense anymore."
04/13/2010 page 46
15.13% "... and then we got some stones from the river bed. And then we threw them in the river. And then we talked some. And then..."
04/13/2010 page 61
20.07% "The story has started to pick up, almost a third of the way through. Looking after Cara will be the best thing for Tom's depression."
04/14/2010 page 88
28.95% "This story just gave me an idea for the most gut-wrenching, heart-moving short story ever, about faith and forgiveness."
04/14/2010 page 102
33.55% "Sequences of "Who cares?" with bits of "Wow!" in between."
04/15/2010 page 106
34.87% "What changed for Gloria to cause her suddenly to act? What changed for Cara to make her suddenly want to forgive?"
04/24/2010 page 116
38.16% "Don't know why I'm having trouble getting into Cara's mind. Maybe I just don't understand her basic need."
05/02/2010 page 122
40.13% "Cara spends a lot of time thinking about the past, but little on how her family presently effects her. (No complaint. Just an observation.)"
05/03/2010 page 125
41.12% "Hmm. Why does Cara try to keep others away from her thoughts, even those of yesteryear?"
05/04/2010 page 132
43.42% "Why is Rosie so personally invested in Cara coming to London with her?"
05/05/2010 page 152
50.0% "What changed Ben? He had some transformative experience that hasn't even been alluded to here."
05/05/2010 page 166
54.61% "Some of these scenes degenerate into laundry-list scenes. "Where are the car keys?" "I thought you had them!" "Not me!" Oy vey."
05/05/2010 page 166
54.61% "BTW, in the US, just by changing your name, you won't escape the police. Probably in the UK, too."
05/05/2010 page 167
54.93% "Many of these character changes seem sudden to me, plotted, insufficient internal motivation for the change. Why I dropped Philip Pullman!"
05/05/2010 page 169
55.59% "Don't understand Claire's reaction, although— No. Don't get it, not after 9 years of happy & peaceful marriage. Again, sudden." 3 comments
05/05/2010 page 175
57.57% "This last scene made me laugh. The MST3K crew kept whispering in my head. I think I'm tired. Need sleep..."
05/07/2010 page 187
61.51% "A bit of Wow! here. This changes everything, doesn't it? (Although I would have hoped Gloria would do the dirty work, for Cara's sake.)"
05/08/2010 page 195
64.14% "Just up and reading myself to sleep. Looking forward to see if Penny comes back on the scene."
07/04/2010 page 274
89.0% "I'm noticing a few themes that recur throughout this story, maybe a clue to understanding these characters. They still behave in ways that feel random to me, but perhaps the randomness has some grander purpose."
07/04/2010 page 304
99.0% "Still don't get the characters, like real people sometimes, and these characters do seem to be based on real people. The patterns are too consistent. I suspect they mean a great deal to Maria, the author, and I hope to talk to her about them after I write my review."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Maria (last edited May 07, 2010 01:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maria I think you should stop reading it, it's obviously not your cup of tea, please don't feel that you have to read it just because I sent you a free copy :) I won't be offended.

message 2: by J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

J. King I'll think about it. I do want to see how it turns out. It may not be my cup of tea, but I like it more than Northern Lights. Not all bad. :-) I use my notes here on Goodreads to remind myself as I write a more detailed review.

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