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A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki If you’ve read my blog the past few weeks, undoubtedly you’ve seen my whining about how 2013 is shaping up to be in terms of literature. The dearth of great young adult fiction has disheartened me but provided a new door for me to enter. Where YA has been dropping the ball, adult literature has been picking it up and playing the game of its career. Although A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING wasn’t the perfect novel I had hoped for, it was a novel that I needed. It’s philosophical, inventive, engrossing, thought-provoking, and a strange little creature that has a life of its own. Weeks after finishing it, I still think about it and the characters that inhabited it. Sometimes they are good thoughts, but some are boring and lead into meandering discussions with myself about the need for a certain narrator. Overall, though, A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING was a story that enveloped me and refused to let me go.TWO NARRATORS, TWO POINTS OF VIEWThe main feature that stood out to me about A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING was the fact that it was told half in third person following the novelist Ruth (a fictionalized version of our author, I think) and half in first person diary entries following Nao, a young Japanese girl who has decided to commit suicide after recording her great-grandmother’s life story in a journal. As debris from the 2011 tsunami begins to wash ashore in Canada, Ruth finds Nao’s journal and is determined to find out what happened to her.I’ll be frank. Ruth bored me to tears. She had about as much personality as a cardboard box. I’m sure in real life she’s a wonderful, exciting, intriguing woman, but fictional Ruth came off as someone who could easily relate to packaging tape.But even Nao was sometimes boring, especially as the story moved away from her and her personal issues to the issues surrounding her family as a whole, particularly her dead great-uncle who may or may not be a ghost. I wasn’t quite clear on if he was real or a hallucination, but I don’t doubt it.A DIFFERENT PLACE, A DIFFERENT TIMEThis book has one amazing thing going for it that deserves five stars (even though as you will find out this book overall only really deserves 3.5 rounded up because they don’t make a broken heart ALT code). It has the power to transport you across the world, from a Canadian fishing village turned respite for those wishing to disconnect to Tokyo to a tiny village in northeastern Japan soon to be destroyed by the 2011 tsunami. Ozeki’s power to take you places is immense and in full effect here, even if at times it did wander into boring land, population Maybe Ghost Dead Guy.ALL IN ALL…If you are looking for a good adult contemporary with at least one narrator who will entrance you with her tale, then A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING might be up your alley – with a little reservation. Beware Ruth and how she will inevitably lull you to sleep. You will need coffee to make it through her scenes, but Nao’s incredible power and story will more than make up for the boring second POV.VERDICT: Though one of the two POVs is lacking any depth and personality, A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING is a powerful story about family, loss, and building your life after seemingly being defeated. Check this one out.