Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/17)
Paul Clayton’s novel, “Van Ripplewink,” is an amazing story about how society and the world has changed from 1966 to 2015.
The main character, Van, was injured in an accident in 1966 and in a coma for over forty years. Unaware of all this, when he wakes up he attempts to go home, only to find out it is no longer there.
Society has changed, the world is full of cell phones, CD’s, bigotry, racism, and distrust. Van has great difficulty coming to terms with all of the changes. He is confused, yet at the same time thinks he is lost and living in a new world.
“Van Ripplewink” has taken what many of us have seen as our deteriorating society–you see it every day in our communities and on the media, in the form of riots, protests, crude remarks to others when they don’t agree with you, and harm to those who are less fortunate. Who made each of us God, in that we can judge others or determine who deserves to live?
In the story, Van is rescued by Charles, a stranger, from a group of smart-mouthed, angry teens. Charles takes Van home and under his wing, much to the dismay of his African-American family. Charles is a good man, with family values and yet is criticized by his money grubbing girlfriend for helping a “white boy.” His girlfriend lives off the government and is proud of it, she loves degrading Charles for having values.
Charles, a bit leery of Van’s story, decides to check him out and what he finds is shocking, yet he still is protective of him. Van is still trying to figure out in comparison to 1966 how things changed so much, and he looks up to Charles. After a black thug robber is shot by a white police officer–the events and riots of Ferguson, Missouri happen all over again. Most people have no idea why they are protesting or looting, but they get their “15 minutes of fame.”
Clayton does an exceptional job introducing his characters, and provides seamless transition between events. His story reflects on how much we have become a “me” society–with all the “you did me wrong in the past and you will pay” attitudes.
“Van Ripplewink” is a very thought provoking book. All of the characters have made choices. We all make choices. Are you part of the solution or part of the problem? And that, is Paul Clayton’s point.