If Morning Ever Comes

( 5 )

Overview

"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.

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If Morning Ever Comes: A Novel

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Overview

"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.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449911785
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/11/1996
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 434,273
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.95 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Anne Tyler has made a glorious career of telling the often less-than glorious stories of small-town people enduring life’s every day ups and downs. Having come of age in rural Raleigh, North Carolina, the enigmatic Tyler draws upon her background to fashion tales of the South that are quirky, humorous, and insightful.

Biography

Anne Tyler has had a very active imagination all her life. When she was a young girl, she would spend an hour or two after being put to bed every night fantasizing that she was a doctor. She imagined conversations with patients, and pictured their lives as she did so, considering both their illnesses and the intricacies of their backgrounds. She constructed little mental plays around these characters that she would whisper to herself in the dark -- much to the chagrin of her brother, with whom she shared a room. "[H]e used to call out to our parents, ‘Anne's whispering again!'" she once told Barnes & Noble.com. As much as she may have vexed her brother, she also believes that these fantasies helped her to develop into the beloved, award-winning novelist she is today.

Tyler's work is characterized by a meticulous attention to detail, a genuine love of her characters, and a quirky sense of humor. Her public persona is characterized by its own quirks, as well. She refuses to grant face-to-face interviews. She has never publicly read from any of her books. She does not do book signings or tours. All of this has lent a certain mystique to her novels, although Tyler has said that her reluctance to become a public figure status is actually the result of simple shyness, not to mention her desire for her writing to speak for itself. Fortunately, Anne Tyler's work speaks with a clear, fully-realized voice that does not require unnecessary elucidation by the writer.

Tyler published her first novel If Morning Ever Comes in 1964, and that singular voice was already in place. This astute debut that tracks the self-realization of a young man named Ben Joe Hawkins displayed Tyler's characteristic wit and gentle eccentricity right off the bat. Harper's declared the novel "a triumph," and Tyler was on her way to creating an impressive catalog of novels chronicling the every day hopes, fears, dreams, failures, and victories of small-town Americans. Having come of age, herself, in rural North Carolina, Tyler had particular insight into the lives of her characters. Each novel was a little shimmering gem, winning her a devoted following and public accolades that more than compensated for her refusal to appear in public. Her novel Earthly Possessions, the story of a housewife who is taken hostage by a young man during a bank robbery, was released the same year she won an award for "literary excellence and promise of important work to come" from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The book also went on to become a television movie starring Susan Sarandon and Stephen Dorff in 1999.

However, the most well-known adaptation of one of Tyler's novels arrived more than a decade earlier when The Accidental Tourist was made into an Academy Award winning film starring Geena Davis and William Hurt. Consequently, The Accidental Tourist is viewed by some as Tyler's signature novel, covering many of the writer's favorite themes: the push and pull of marriage, the appearance of a romantic eccentric, personal tragedy, and the quest to escape from the drudgery of routine. The Accidental Tourist won the National Book Critics Circle Award and hit number one on The New York Times Bestseller list.

Three years later, Tyler received the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons, which further explored themes of marriage and self-examination. Despite having won the prestigious Pulitzer, Tyler still refused to allow herself to be drawn into the spotlight. Quietly, contemplatively, she chose to continue publishing a sequence of uniformly fine novels, including Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, and The Amateur Marriage.

Anne Tyler's novel Digging to America reexamines many of her chief obsessions, while also possibly drawing upon a personal triumph -- her marriage to Iranian psychiatrist and novelist Taghi Mohammad Modarressi -- and the tragedy of his death in 1997. Digging to America follows the relationship between two families, the Iranian Yazdans and the all-American Donaldsons, as they become closer and closer and affect each other deeper and deeper over a succession of years. Digging to America is arguably Tyler's deepest and most profound work to date. It also delivers more of her peculiar brand of humor, which will surely please her longtime fans, thrilled that she continues spinning tales with the trademark attention to character that has distinguished her stories ever since she was a little girl, whispering to herself in the dark. Tyler may have decided to remain in the dark and out of the public eye, but the stories she has to tell have shed more than their share of light on the lives of her readers.

Good To Know

Tyler first began writing stories at the innocent age of seven. At the time, most of her yarns involved, as she has said, "lucky, lucky girls who got to go west in covered wagons."

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    1. Hometown:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 25, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Duke University, 1961

Reading Group Guide

1. Why does Ben Joe go home to Sandhill? What is the triggering incident that makes him get on the train?
What are some of the other underlying reasons that send him home?

2. One reviewer described the Hawkes family home as
“loveless.” Do you agree? In what ways is the family conventional?
In what ways is it unconventional?

3. What are the things that you’re not allowed to talk about at the Hawkeses’ house? Who enforces the no-talk rules?

4. How do you think Ben Joe feels being the only man in the house? How do his sisters treat him? His mother?
His grandmother? What is Ben Joe looking for in his childhood home?

5. Who was Dr. Phillip Hawkes? What do we learn about him over the course of the novel? How does Ben Joe feel about him?

6. Who is Jamie Dower, and why is he in the book at all?
Why does his death affect Gram so deeply? What does her reaction to his death say to her family?

7. This book is about alcoholism, love, family, adultery,
divorce, money, and grief—and yet it is not at all heavyhanded or lugubrious. How does Tyler keep the pages turning? How does she use humor and quirkiness? What does she have to say about all these “issues”?

8. Why does Ben Joe go to visit Shelley? Do you think he knows why at the time? How do you feel about
Shelley? What is troubling about Ben Joe’s relationship with her?

9. Why do you think Ben Joe’s father left his wife and family? Do you have sympathy for him? How do his children feel about his lover, Lili Belle, and their half brother? What does Lili Belle have to offer them?

10. In some psychological circles, it is said that children act out their parents’ relationship. If this is true, how is
Ben Joe “acting out” his parents’ relationship. How is
Joanne? Jennifer? How do the siblings do it as a group?

11. This is a book by a young novelist; Anne Tyler published it when she was twenty-two—three years younger than her male protagonist. Does it read “young”? How do you think she was able to embody the thoughts and language of her hero?

12. Joanne has left the family to marry—and returned after seven years with her daughter, Carol. Why do you think Joanne comes home? What are the possible problems in her marriage? Do you think she will stay married to Gary?

13. Anne Tyler is the author of sixteen novels, all of which are thematically related and address character and story in not-dissimilar ways. If Morning Ever Comes is her first novel—for those who have read some or all of the author’s other novels, in what ways is it a true Anne
Tyler novel? In what ways is it unique and different from some of her other books?

14. When Ben Joe leaves North Carolina for New York again, how has his life changed? How has it stayed the same? How do you feel about Shelley and Ben Joe leaving together? Is Ben Joe realistic in his assessment of their potential life together?

15. Would you classify this as an optimistic novel? A
realistic novel?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2007

    Anne Tyler is the best out there!

    I really enjoyed this book. It was actually the first book Tyler wrote. She started it while on a trip and accidentally left it at the airport -- it was in with her unclaimed baggage. She retrieved it at least a month later. This story really meant something to me. Touched upon the passage of time and the feeling between familes, the longing for the old days. I feel that myself very often now that my kids are in their teens.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2011

    So-So

    Loved all the other Anny Tyler books, but if I had read this one first, I may not have bought another. The characters and situations were a bit corny.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2011

    Not a great read

    This book was really a short story. It was only 178 pages long. Can't believe I downloaded it to my Nook and paid $10.76. The story had some interesting moments but did not go anywhere. The publish date on Barnes and Noble website was different than actual publish date...maybe printed date and ebook publish dates are different? Needless to say, I was definitely disappointed and will not download an ebook again unless I first read a downloaded free chapter sample.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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