If Morning Ever Comes: A Novel

If Morning Ever Comes: A Novel

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"Funny, serious, touching, zany, delightful, revealing…a triumph!" —Harper's

Ben Joe Hawkes comes from a fairly large, blindly cheerful family that never seems to know when to get upset. Raised by women—a proud mother, an incorrigible grandmother, and a flock of busy sisters—Ben Joe has always been an outsider of sorts, and a chronic worrier.

Then a casual telephone conversation with his mom, in which he discovers that one of his sisters has left her husband and run off with her baby, propels him back home—and into the confusion of childhood memories and unforeseen love.

“Without Anne Tyler, American fiction would be an immeasurably bleaker place.” —Newsday

“One of the most beguiling and mesmerizing writers in America.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“To read a novel by Anne Tyler is to fall in love.” —People

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491582381
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her 17th novel. Her 11th, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she 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

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 offerthem?

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