If Morning Ever Comes

If Morning Ever Comes

by Anne Tyler


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"A triumph."


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....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449911785
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/11/1996
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 429,471
Product dimensions: 5.03(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the author of many novels, including Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, Noah’s Compass, and A Spool of Blue Thread. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tyler lives in Baltimore, Maryland.


Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

October 25, 1941

Place of Birth:

Minneapolis, Minnesota


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?

Customer Reviews

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If Morning Ever Comes 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Maeve9 More than 1 year ago
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.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lukewarm early offering by a gifted novelist. The story concerns a young man trying to leave behind his home of six sisters, but I suggest you skip it altogether in favor of one of Tyler¿s later, and much better, offerings.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ben Joe gets a call from his mom and learns his older sister has left her husband. Ben Joe leaves college and heads home to help the family. Anne Tyler slowly and masterfully flips Ben Joe's family over onto its rough underbelly. A complex picture of a family.
moonshineandrosefire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ben Joe Hawkes is a worrier. He has been raised in a family of women and during a phone call with his mother, he learns that one of his sisters has taken her baby and left her husband. Ben Joe's worry for his sister propels him home again; away from law school and stability to the confusion of childhood memories and unforseen love. I enjoyed this book - Ms Tyler's first. In my opinion, it was a little light on plot but very well-written. I give it an A!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Still a good read all these years later. Ms Tyler never disappoints.
BarbedOne More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago