This is an ambitious book that weaves together several narrative threads into an engaging and moving story of two souls at different points in time. The story is told from the differing points of view of Nao, a teenager who kept a diary of her life growing up in Japan, and Ruth, a writer in Canada who found Nao’s diary washed up on the seashore.

The book centred on Nao’s story and, as the reader, I found myself reading quickly over Ruth’s sections just so I could get back to Nao. Despite being the main protagonist in the book, Ruth felt like a secondary character to Nao. Some of the story is told through Ruth’s perspective to bring the reader into the present day, but the sections that present Nao’s diary entries were the most engaging. As such, I didn’t think Ruth contributed much to the story other than finding Nao’s diary and having us, the reader, read along with her. Maybe it was my own state of mind of feeling disjointed at the time, but I felt Ruth’s character and her world distracted from Nao’s story.

This was the first book on my list whose ending felt like a let down. A bit too tidy, glossing over a number of heavy subjects (e.g. abuse, bullying, suicide to name a few) in order to make the ending neat(ish). Considering all that Nao experienced, the ending of her story felt too simple. I’m not sure that was the author’s intention, but the whole ending felt like sweeping stuff under the rug to get it out of the way. Despite the ending, overall, it’s a poignant and unique story that’s worth a read.

2 thoughts on “Booklist 2017: A Tale for the Time Being (Ruth Ozeki)

  1. I read this book recently and loved it. What do you think was the end of Nao’s story? because I thought it was a little ambiguous what happened with her and just the right way to show that we don’t always know where time will take us.


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