Saturday, June 27, 2015

‘A Tale for the Time Being’ by Ruth Ozeki

Book cover, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is the latest book on my summer reading log through Jackson County Library Services.

The story is told through the alternating perspectives of 16-year-old Nao, a girl in Tokyo whose classmates subject her to cruel and relentless bullying, and Ruth, a novelist who discovers Nao’s diary after it washes ashore on the remote Pacific coast island where Ruth lives.

Nao’s mother is her family’s sole earner and her father, deeply depressed, has already attempted suicide and seems likely to attempt it again. Nao believes that her only option is to commit suicide as well.

Before she kills herself, Nao sets herself a task of telling the life story of her great-grandmother, a 104-year-old Buddhist nun.

As Ruth reads Nao’s diary, she tries to piece together evidence of Nao’s fate. Did she carry out her intention to commit suicide? Or, if she didn’t kill herself, did she fall victim to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami?

The characters in this book were vivid and came alive for me. I especially related to Nao’s dilemma with bullying and to Ruth’s husband Oliver, who views the world with a unique perspective that is not always understood.

Disclosure of material connection: My taxes support my public library’s acquisition of this and other resources. I consider the access I enjoy to be a “priceless” return on my investment.

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