Even though it’s been almost two years since I first read A Tale for the Time Being, and yet it still regularly washes up on the shores of my consciousness. This week’s #fivestarfriday selection demands a first, second, and third reading. Ruth Ozeki’s novel can satisfy a wide variety of readers because she has imaginatively drawn relatable characters and explored a variety of themes and topics: the struggles of a bullied teenage girl, biculturalism, a World War II kamikaze, the 2011 tsunami, Zen Buddhism, Alzheimer’s, quantum physics, pollution, suicide, and a possibly a magical crow. It has something for everyone and not too much for anyone.
Book Jacket Summary:
“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.
At its core, A Tale for the Time Being explores the meaning of time, place, and connection. As the Book Critics review stated, “This magical yet earthbound novel reveals and exemplifies the freedom you gain when you’re willing to rethink what “connection” means, and consider that it’s a different thing in every living moment.”
The lovely thing about this novel is that the reader doesn’t have to think once about quantum physics or consider the deeper themes woven through the book in order to appreciate the inspired plot.
Also by Ruth Ozeki: My Year of Meats