A Tale for the Time Being
By Ruth Ozeki
Viking, 2013. 422 pgs. Fiction
A Tale for the Time Being switches perspectives between Nao, a teenage girl living in Japan, and Ruth, a middle-aged woman living on the pacific coast of British Columbia. The connection between these two unlikely people is a diary that Nao writes and Ruth finds washed up on her beach. As Ruth reads the diary, she forms a bond with Nao and starts to feel an urgency about helping her, even though the diary is years old. Nao writes of her isolation, her father's attempted suicides, and of her grandmother, a Buddhist monk.
Ruth Ozeki writes a careful, considerate novel with beautiful prose and life-like characters. The unusual structure, switching between a book and the person reading the book, may seem modern, but it adds an incredible depth to the work. The book changes from ultra-realism, dealing with issues of bullying and dysfunctional families, one moment and an almost magical realism the next.
Recommended for people who like modern literature and reading about different cultures and issues; however, readers should be aware that this book is not for the light of heart - Nao uses her diary to describe some very disturbing scenes.