Book Review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: A Tale for the Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Publication Date: 12th March 2013 (according to goodreads)

Synopsis: "Within the pages of this book lies the diary of a girl called Nao. Riding the waves of a tsunami, it is making its way across the ocean. It will change the life of the person who finds it.
It might just change yours, too."

My thoughts: I have thought about reading this book on and off for months, and, while I was in Japan, I saw a copy in English and pounced on it. And I'm so glad I did.

The story is basically split into two parts - one follows the written diary (and a few accompanying documents, including some letters in Japanese, and a small journal in French) of Nao, a sixteen-year-old girl living in Japan, the other follows Ruth and her husband, Oliver: the ones who find the diary washed up on a beach in Canada.

This book was so interesting - whenever I wasn't reading it, I was thinking or talking about it, and that is a very good sign to me. I liked how different the two main characters are - Nao seems oddly serene while her whole world is topsy-turvy, and Ruth is almost the complete opposite, yet you feel this inextricable link between the two. There as some dark subject matter in this book, and I felt like it was dealt with in an unashamed manner which I really appreciated. Sometimes things like suicide can feel either darkly glorified or washed over with a kind of detached sadness, but here it was dealt with head-on whenever it came up, and I found that rather refreshing in a way.

I loved how Ozeki wrote this, and how she managed to cram in amazing things like Zen Buddhism, Quantum Mechanics, and even a little bit of magical realism, if I'm not mistaken, and yet still have it moving forward so smoothly. It was fascinating to read while in Japan, as it brought up locations I had visited or gone near, and provided information that I don't think I would have gotten had I not read it.

I will say that there was potential to be disappointed near the end as things started to shift, but I felt that Ozeki pulled it together well enough to keep me interested and gripped. I'm not sure what genre I would classify this book as (mystery? fantasy? memoir?), but in a way I don't think that matters. I loved this book. I think I will look for Ozeki's other books sometime soon.

You would like this book if: you enjoy a book that is a bit left of centre; you like to learn about odd topics while enjoying an excellent story.

Rating:  10/10

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  1. Whoa! A 10! It doesn't sound like a book I would take pleasure in reading, but you've caught my interest!

    1. Also, it seems my phone's default login is you!


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