A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Rating: ★★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.
I’ll just come right out and say it. This book does not deserve the prasie it is getting. The plot is great but as I actually got along reading the book, I hated it. Ozeki does a wonderful job creating the voices of Nao and Ruth. During Nao parts, it was clear that a teen was speaking and while reading Ruth parts, it felt like a woman was speaking.
Ozeki writes a compelling story, for Nao that is. As a reader, I praised her, cried her, felt joy for her, and at some moments I truly hated her (but more on that later). This is wear the praise ends. When I initially started the book, I loved it but as I continued to read I enjoyed the book less and less. The book has a few flaws that prevented me from giving it a higher rating:
- The ending. The ending was terrible. I felt like the end of the books was too much about Ruth and not about Nao. The ending should have been Nao’s ending, not Ruth’s.
- Ozeki lacked subtlety. I felt like she was shoving her political views down my throat through out the entire book. I don’t care if share the same views, I don’t need to read about them.
- Nao’s actions. Nao’s actions in the second half made her look more like a selfish brat than a girl suffering through bully, culture shock, and her own family issues. There is one scene where her father attempts suicide. When he returns home from the hospital, Nao gives him a noting basically saying that if he is going to kill himself do it right next time. From that moment on, I hated her. I wanted slap her after reading that. I honestly stopped feeling sorry for her after this moment. I felt like her actions towards her father were terrible. It left a bad taste me my mouth.
- Ruth’s sections. They honestly could have taken out about 200 pages of this books. I felt like Ruth parts were unnecessary. This was Nao’s story in my opinion, not Ruth’s.
I didn’t like this book. It wasn’t quite worth one-star but it wasn’t that good either.
Oh my god, did you seriously say a 15 year old girl who was nearly raped and had said video posted online, and then has to deal with her dad commiting suicide over A HORRIFIC THING THAT HAPPENED TO HER- a selfish brat for lashing out? Did you seriously? Like you can’t even look at yourself and thing “wow gee if i was teenager who was sexually assaulted, had the video posted online and then had my fucking underwear bought by a pervert I sure wouldn’t be angry at my dad for adding onto the horrible trauma i was going through by trying to commit suicide over this HORRIBLE THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME AND NOT HIM”
Like you seriously have no sympathy for rape and trauma victims. They’re supposed to act like perfect little angels and not resent anyone at all.
Yes in this situation I have all the sympathy in the world for Nao’s father. But I have even more sympathy for Nao, who dealt with a (frankly to the point it cracked my suspension of disbelief someone wouldn’t do something or cut her a fucking break) amount of shit. Of course she would be fucking sick of having yet another thing to deal with. She knew her father was perfectly aware of how much his first suicide attempt hurt her. Are you forgetting that immediately after this she makes the decision to kill herself? You’re seriously blaming a suicidal teenager who is a victim of sexual assault and endless fucking abuse for lashing out at her father who has just added to the crushing weight of depression and horror that her life has become.
Man I try not to start arguments with random people but I can’t. This complete lack of empathy people have for victims unless they act like “good victims” astounds me and horrifies me because I know this behavior carries over into real life. Victims who lash out and actually act damaged are hated and all sympathy goes out the window.