In 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.
Pages: 422 (hardback)
Publisher: Published March 12th 2013 by Viking Adult
Rating: 10 out of 10
Source: Checked out of the library
Date Completed: December 6, 2013
I have been a fan of Ruth Ozeki ever since I read My Year of Meats for the Atlanta book club. She consistency gives an interesting premise to a social justice issue whether it is the global impacts of increased beef consumption, genetically modified food, or bullying. Her characters are well developed and in the middle of wanting to cry, I often start laughing because there are lots of pieces of dark humor and sarcasm. When I was in Seattle, I was briefly part of a book club where we read All Over Creation; I remember being struck by the themes of family and identity in addition to learning a lot about genetically modified food. (You can read my review here)
In the summer, I was at the library and noticed a book newspaper that had interviews and previews of upcoming books. I got really excited to see a cover story about Ruth Ozeki and was thrilled to learn that she had a new book coming out. I immediately put myself on the wait list for A Tale for the Time Being. After returning the book to the library without it reading a few times, I learned that A Tale for the Time Being had been nominated for the Man Booker Prize. I was excited and moved the book to the top of my to-read list.
A Tale for the Time Being started off slowly for me. I enjoyed reading about the zen Buddhist practice, but the story was not particularly gripping. As I got further into the story, my stomach started to hurt as I learned more about Nao's background and circumstances. I also loved getting to know Ruth and how she was struggling to write her next novel while part of a small community on an island. My favorite character is the 104 year old Buddhist nun. Her energy and interactions with Nao were so lovely. I wish that the book had been selected as a book club pick as I would have loved to discuss with others.
P.S.-- Ruth Ozeki is on twitter. You can follow her @ozekiland