A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki


This is a story-within-a-story. One is the account of Nao, a 16-year-old girl who is yanked out of her comfortable life in California to return to Japan when her father loses his job. In between her suicidal thoughts, she decides to write the story of her grandmother, the Buddhist nun. The other is the story of Ruth, a novelist living with her husband on an island off the coast of Canada.

One day a Hello Kitty lunchbox washes up on shore, possibly from the 2011 tsunami. It contains a collection of artifacts, and an account of Nao’s life. With Ruth, we are drawn more and more into Nao’s story.

I am stingy with my stars, but I am awarding this one five stars. Both stories are enchanting, and we care as much for one as the other.

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

It is a book that will stick in you memory for a long time. I plan to reread it in a year or so.


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