Books · reviews

Review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

And now a somewhat different type of review of

A Tale for the Time Being
By Ruth Ozeki


Published by Viking in 2013.

“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 first 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 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.” (Source: Ozekiland)

A Tale for the Time Being is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in the past year, but how do you write about a book that you think is so beautifully written? Especially when the things you like about it far far outweight any things you disliked? I mean, a list of things I liked simply wouldn’t do for a review, so instead I’ll give you a list of things I felt (which is sort of the same thing anyway):

I felt intrigued.

Like the fictional Ruth (not the author, Ruth Ozeki), I felt compelled to continue reading to find out the fate of Nao. I definitely felt drawn to her (Nao’s) character, and found it hard to stop from skipping ahead to see what happens.

I felt sadness.

I also felt very invested in Nao’s story. There’s a lot of sadness in Nao’s life. She announces in the beginning that she’s going to kill herself, and it’s only when you’re more than halfway through the book that you really begin to understand why. If I could have given Nao a hug, I would have.

I felt happiness.

And yet there were many aspects of both Nao’s and Ruth’s journeys that made me smile, or laugh. Ozeki’s writing is never overwhelmingly heavy or depressing. Even the sadness has a lightness to it. And the characters (dark or no) bring it all to life.

I felt disgust.

And sometimes, because they were so real, the characters of A Tale for the Time Being also do horrible things.

I was surprised.

By their stories and by the turns that their stories take. Though Ozeki lays out many things in the beginning, you become so wrapped up in what’s happening that you forget when and where the events of the book are taking place.

I felt envious.

Of Ozeki’s writing and of her ability to convey everything and more in just a sentence.

I felt frustration.

At the ending, but in the end I also felt…



Final thoughts: Go read it noooowwwww. This is a brilliant book. It was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. It has a beautiful cover to go with its beautiful insides. This is such a wonderful book and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it right now. So do me a favor: read it and report back.



3 thoughts on “Review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

  1. Hmm…I confess, I usually stay away from books like this before I fear they’ll be too heavy or depressing…but if the writing doesn’t weigh you down, I may give it a look. Thanks for the great review!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s