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Van Ripplewink: You Can't Go Home Again Kindle Edition
|Length: 330 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
one. The age old concept of being out of one's time, either through misadventure
or time travel, has always fascinated me. I was intrigued by the delightful play on
the name of an old and well-known story. The sub-title, "You Can't Go Home
Again" also opened up the potential for some delightful misadventures.
Nor was I disappointed. Paul Clayton has written a captivating modern day
morality play grounded in well-drawn, believable characters. The setting is
modern day Philadelphia, complete with ghetto, many races and cultures living in
close contact and close conflict with one another. Into this milieu of drugs,
fatherless families, opportunistic race baiters and the collateral damage of a
welfare way of life, Van Ripplewink awakens.
At 17 - 48 years earlier - Van had been struck and apparently killed in a hit and run. He lay in a coma/suspended
animation all that time until an urban renewal project unearthed and knocked the lid off of his coffin.
As Van wanders away from this strange awakening he tries to go home. But the
home he knew 48 years earlier is long gone, and he is like a toddler walking into a
den of snakes - naive, alone, unaware, confused. His story could have ended there,
but as in real life, there are unexpected, unlikely heroes who come to his rescue.
You just have to read the book!
Van tries to make sense of this strange world. The family he left behind was
intact, hard working, loving. What he finds in this new world just isn't right! As
he adjusts to the fact that it really is 2015, he tries to bring the values he was taught
as a child into this strange, unaware, culture.
Clayton brings our modern day dysfunctional society into sharp relief, but he is
never heavy handed in his telling. The people whom Van meets along the way,
and who help him find a place in this new world have struggles and choices of
their own - It is a rich tapestry of contrasts - despair and hope. Always hope.
The everlasting contrast of good and evil, passion and apathy, concern for others
and a narcissistic self absorption are all here. There is love. There is hate. There
is romance. There is terror. All of the questions - and even a few of the answers -
make this a very satisfying tale. Can you ever go home? Can you make a new
home in this new time? What happens when someone out of time changes the
Ah, but the ending. Took me completely by surprise. Don't cheat. Start at the
beginning and live with this tale. You've actually seen some of it on the news -
unless your are in your own state of suspended animation. Clayton shines a fresh
light on the scene. Enjoy. Five stars from me. Beautifully written, well-crafted,
one of the best things I've read in a long time. Kept me up at night :~)
But Mr. Clayton surprised me. He avoided the trap of getting bogged down in just HOW the protagonist (Van Ripplewink) managed to emerge after his 48-year sleep (or whatever it was), healthy and, though foggy, of pretty sound mind—to do so would have moved the tale into the realm of either the supernatural or science fiction—but his intent was clearly to portray through an innocent’s eyes just what has transpired in American society, mores, and values over the last half-century, not to create new physical laws.
He uses well-crafted and diverse characters to present their worldview and values, and shows Van’s perplexity, then questioning, and then evaluation and assessment of the world in which he finds himself.
I’ll skip providing a synopsis of the story; it’s not needed. The interaction of the characters and their various arcs, both positive and negative, kept the action going for me. I found myself involved with them in their daily lives with the pressures and challenges they faced. I read the entire book in three sittings, as once I got into it I didn’t want to stop. When it was over, I was sorry there wasn’t more. I found myself thinking about it when I was doing other things. To me, that defines a 5-star book.
That doesn’t mean it could not possibly have been better. But I felt it well worth the $3.99 Kindle price, and recommend it.
One other comment: An earlier reviewer stated, “Many errors in spelling and grammar.” As a regular proofreader for many authors I generally notice typos and “glitches” that many others don’t, and I found exactly ONE instance of a missing word, and ZERO spelling errors. That reviewer was either worried about ungrammatical dialogue or internal monologue—thoughts— (which is the way many/most people speak in casual settings), or he was reading a different book.
Will definitely be recommending to friends and family.
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