Review: A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki

27.Ruth Ozeki-A Tale For The Time BeingIt’s been a long while since I read a book that I had to stay awake to finish. Sleeping before I had finished this just wasn’t an option because I needed to know what happened. I can’t put in to words just how this book hit me, but you know when you get that kick right in the gut from a book? Yeah. That. This book kicked me right in the gut and it just had a really big impact on me. I laughed and I cried both happy and sad tears. I wanted to read as slowly as I could but had to read as quickly as possible to just know what happened. It sucked me in, spun me around and spat me out again. It was just beautiful.

This is a take on an epistolary novel, really. There are diary entries, letters and emails. As for our characters, we have Nao, Ruth and the two Haruki’s. I adored how the 4 voices were intertwined and how each impacted on the other. Nao is a beautiful protagonist – her point of view is something I don’t feel I’ve heard before. Ruth is, for all intents and purposes, the author herself. That is a little odd, it has taken me a while to get my head around the fact! And then we have Haruki #1 and Haruki #2, who are both very distinct personalities even though they’re separated by 60 years, life and death, and never actually speak for themselves. Then there’s Jiko, who I’ve yet to mention. But she is a 104 year old Buddhist nun and she’s awesome. I want a Jiko.

This book just touches on so many themes; religion, life, death, time, war… it’s pretty much all there along with a handy helping of Marcel Proust! Suicide is probably the most predominant theme and I like that it wasn’t sugar coated, even if that sounds harsh. In making it rough and honest, I think it made it all the more heart wrenching and I think also, ultimately, heart warming.

“Time itself is being…and all being is time…In essence, everything in the entire universe is intimately linked with each other as moments in time, continuous and separate.”

While it’s very realistic, it also has it’s moments of magical realism. Is time tangible? Do events now have any influence on the events of the past? I won’t spoil it but yes. There is a crow, and he does magic things. Some of it is a little odd, makes little sense, but it’s one of those things you just have to accept and carry on reading. I also have to say I really liked the way that quantum theory was interwoven with the time aspect of this novel! I am by no means a fan of physics (I avoid it where possible) but for once, what little knowledge I have came in useful!

Ultimately, it is about being happy in the here and now – not looking to the past or the future for contentment or hope; and not indulging in regret or wishes. As the character Ruth states in the epilogue: “I’d much rather know, but then again, not-knowing keeps all the possibilities open. It keeps all the worlds alive.”

This review is very broken and all over the place, for that I apologise. I wanted to write while it was still somewhat fresh in my mind, but I’ve found that it’s all a bit jumbled! This book was amazing, no buts about it. It’s by no stretch an easy book to read but it is definitely one that should be read. Possibly the best book I’ve read this year – 5/5

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