Wednesday, July 31, 2013
A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki
A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING
Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For The Time Being is an interesting, refreshing novel. Ruth, a writer, and her husband, Oliver, moved to a small island off the Pacific coast of Canada. One day, while on the beach, Ruth discovers a barnacle covered plastic bag; inside the bag were a watch, old letters, and a diary. The diary was written by Nao, a Japanese teenager who spent most of her remembered youth in California before being forced to return to Tokyo. At her school in Tokyo, Nao was bullied and eventually stopped attending school. Nao revealed how her father, who was unable to find a job, had attempted suicide several times and how she herself planned to commit suicide in the near future. But first, Nao wanted to write a tribute to her very interesting great grandmother, Jiko, a 104 year old Buddhist priest. Ruth loses herself in Nao’s diary. Through research, she verifies the existence of Nao and her family, as well as many of the details included in the diary. However, no one knows what happened to Nao and her family during the tsunami. Perhaps the bag holding Nao’s belongings floated to the beach of the island as a result of the tsunami, even though Oliver and the other islanders believe that the tsunami debris would not reach them.
In my opinion, A Tale For The Time Being started slowly. But subsequent to the slow start, the pace of the book picked up, and its subject was simply fascinating. Oliver told Ruth that, as a result of the tsunami, Japan actually moved closer to their island; Nao’s diary – and Ruth’s losing herself in that story – actually seemed to bring Japan even closer than the movement resulting from the tsunami. This is a very interesting book!