A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Published by: Viking on March 12th, 2013
Genre: Fiction, Cultural, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Source: Borrowed from the Library
Trigger Warning: Suicide & Bullying
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Summary (from Goodreads): n Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Review: This story had an interesting plot line. Two people connected within a different time and we get to hear each characters point of few as the chapters go back and forth between them. We hear of Nao’s present and also hear of Ruth reading through Nao’s diary. If I am being honest, I really didn’t like Nao’s parts in the book. They seemed very whiny and were very raunchy for a 16 year old. Why does she have to go through all these brutal things? I’m not saying that books shouldn’t feature abuse and other things because they should be ignored. I think they should be in books to get the message out there and to spread awareness. But terrible things were happening to her over and over again and I found it did not advance the plot at all and made me feel rather disgusted. There was bullying, child prostitution, abuse, and talks of suicide. I really found myself yearning for Ruth’s parts.
I liked that I got to listen to the audiobook of this as I feel if I had the actually copy in my hand I would put it down in parts. But then again listening to the narration of Nao’s part made me want to mute it at times. Maybe I would have gotten a different feeling from her character if I were to read it.
I found myself learning about things that I was unaware of before. There was interesting information about science and the Japanese/Buddhist culture just sprinkled throughout. It’s nice to be able to take away knowledge from books.
Right after reading this book I had given it 4 stars but now having time to think about it I am going to drop it down to a 2.5.
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Interesting that you listened to it rather than read. Think by sounds of it you would have skimmed parts of read. Was it the same narrator for Nao and Ruth’s narrations?
Uh oh. I’m so sorry that you didn’t enjoy this title. I personally loved the book, but I definitely do see what you’re saying about the distracting events that seem to prevent the plot from moving in a straight direction.
I was hoping that the book would have a more clear message about suicide and abuse, but the ending just seemed a bit to abrupt and unsatisfying.
Anyway, great review, I look forward to reading more from you in the future…Happy Reading! 🙂