4 out of 4 stars
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Timewise by Robert Leet, is a work of Science Fiction that depicts a young man’s struggle to find himself and his niche or place in society. In the initial chapter, the protagonist, Ron Larsen, is a thirteen year old orphan who has been bounced around numerous foster homes. He is the newest member of a Chess Club in New England where he encounters Regina Russo. Regina is a Physics Professor at Northern University who specializes in the study of time. When asked by Ron what she has learnt about time she responds by saying, “I’ve learned that awareness creates time.”(pg.9) Regina takes a personal interest in Ron’s education. “Soon after our first meeting, Regina began to volunteer at my middle school—not in any of my classes, but I often saw her in earnest discussion with the better science students.” (pg.10) “Toward the end of my high school days, Regina began to encourage me to continue on with school, and I believe she discussed me with my other teachers as well, as several of them also tried to convince me to go to college. I had other ideas.” (pg. 12)
Due to financial circumstances, Ron is unable to afford college. After graduation, Ron moves into a studio apartment with his high school girlfriend Keisha. “We had seen ourselves as outcasts in school, she being the only black kid in our town, and me being the weird orphan. We thought that was enough for us to be together, but it wasn’t really. Once we left school there wasn’t anything to be outcast from, and therefore there was nothing we had left in common.” (pg.13) Ron breaks up with Keisha and relocates to an apartment building that provides off-campus housing for Northern University students. Although he is not a student, Ron is able to engage students around the campus to play Poker, where he is able to make side bets for money. Despite all this, Ron still continues to struggle financially, which is evidenced by the following remarks:”To support myself I bounced from one unchallenging job to the next, in stores that sold technical gadgets, office supplies, electronics, whatever. My managers always wanted me to apply myself and move up the chain of command, but I did as little as I possibly could to still keep the job. Sometimes less. This allowed me to spend my evenings playing poker. The stakes were often low but there was always a game.”(pg.17) After a series of bumbles, Regina appears on the scene again and offers to pay Ron’s college tuition. She is determined that Ron should pursue a more dignifying career.
At first I thought that the name Timewise suggested that this book was about time travel, whether in the past or future. Upon further reflection, however, the title of the book is suitably named. All we have in life is time. How one spends that time, determines the passage of one’s existence, whether we spend it foolishly or wisely—hence the term ‘timewise.’ What I liked most about this book is that the author’s narrative is by no means predictable! Indeed the character development in the plots and sub-plots take on unexpected twists. This book definitely has the element of surprise! I found this to be evident in the writer’s portrayal of the character Cheryl Liona, who is studying for her doctorate in Botany. She invites Ron on an expedition to collect samples or plant specimens through the forest and later forms a sexual liaison with him.
What I disliked about the book is that the protagonist, Ron Larsen, has no ambition on his own. It is always someone else who has to encourage him to pursue a goal or to do something meaningful with his life. Perhaps his worldview and his quest for self identity reflected such low self-esteem that he thought it was fruitless to surmount to anything great in life due to his financial position. This is what could be termed as “the danger of low expectation.” It would also seem that at times Ron was contented to be a “hustler,” trying to get the fastest means to make money. In his early years as a teenager, he had joined the Chess Club to make side bets to win cash so he would have extra spending money. In his later years, he learned to play poker to make additional side bets with the University students in their fraternity houses or off-campus. When he actually started to attend classes at Northern University, he did so in an effort to receive money that Regina had offered to pay him every time he procured an ‘A’ grade in his studies.
There is profane language in this manuscript which pops up intermittently. Personally, I do not support the use of profanity in any literary work. It is my humble opinion that it detracts from the writer’s literary style and it cheapens the value of the narrative. The English language comprises of an abundant supply of words with which one can express oneself without bombarding the reader with such vulgar terminology. There are minor grammatical, spelling or typographical errors in the manuscript. This manuscript seems to be professionally edited. There are romantic scenes but these are not erotic in nature. The author has been able to describe the sexual relationships tactfully and without the gory details. The author has also made a concerted effort to incorporate some principles in Physics with reality such as ‘wave particle duality.’ These terms are explained explicitly so that even someone without a background in Physics would be able to comprehend them. Due to the adult language contained in this book, I would recommend it to adults who are interested in fiction, romance, physics and the pursuit of self awareness or finding one’s niche in society. I rate this book as 4 out of 4 stars.
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