A Tale for the Time Being


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.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

This was a wonderful book. It was multilayered, moving back and forth between the experience of a young girl in Japan and a woman living in Canada. The story explored themes of Zen Buddhism, quantum physics, animal spirits and totems, the effects of the tsunami in Japan, bullying, mental illness and suicide, and moral choices during wartime. All of these weighty themes are combined in a very enjoyable, seamless way. I couldn't put the book down. It has an uplifting, hopeful ending. It is whimsical, graceful and smart. The author has given a wonderful gift to the world.

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