BOOK REVIEW: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

December 19, 2013

in Books

I use Grammarly’s online plagiarism checker because when you steal words, you steal someone’s thoughts and creativity.
“Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness… There is no act more wretched than stealing, Amir.” ~The Kite Runner

A Tale for the Time Being

A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

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.

What unfolds in this novel is part mystery, part tragedy, part history, part philosophy, part physics, part enlightment.

Through Nao’s story we get the tragedy of a young girl who has dealt with have to adapt to a new culture, bullying, a suicidal father, and her own suicidal thoughts. We also get the story of her great-grandmother, a Buddist nun, and a glimpse into Buddist philosophy and enlightenment. We get the story of her great-uncle, who was a kamakazi pilot in WWII. Nao’s story is rich with detail and incorporates everything from WWII to 9/11, from Japanese society to tsunamis.

I found myself drawn into the complexities of Nao’s story, which we get to hear in her own words. It is heart-breaking and lovely.

Ruth is reading the story at another place and time. Ruth’s story brings in a lot of philosophy and physics and she tries to understand Nao’s story and deal with her strong desire to save Nao, even though the words Nao wrote did not happen in Ruth’s time. We get a look into the philosophy of time and of being. What does time actually mean? What does being actually mean?

There were some parts of this novel that were a bit confusing when it came to discussions of quantum physics, but overall, it was easy to follow. If you love philosophical novels, you will dive deep into this story. If you don’t, the end may be a bit challenging, but the story is well worth the read. It will make you think. It will make you look at how you live your life. It will make you analyze your experiences, your spirituality, your beliefs, and your own story.




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Lindsey Renuard is a blogger, YouTube beauty expert, and the Managing Editor of the Skiatook Journal.

{ 1 comment }

Jennifer January 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I love this cover! And am actually waiting for the UPS man to deliver my copy 🙂
Jennifer recently posted..The Supreme Macaroni Company

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