By: Meghan Light
A Tale for the Time Being, a novel written by Ruth Ozeki, takes the reader into an emotional spiral, and it’s an unforgettable experience.
The book centres around two main protagonist’s perspectives: Ruth, who is an author living on Vancouver island, and Nao, a Japanese-American teen who is living overseas in Japan. When Ruth discovers Nao’s diary on the beach near her house, she gleans insight into Nao’s life, while developing a deep affection for her.
In Ruth’s life, there is a strong desire for perfection, a longing for something that is missing. In her relationship with her husband, Oliver, there are tensions and barriers that illustrate the hardships of a marriage. Ruth’s obsession over Nao’s diary will warp the concepts of time and the realms of being in a way I can’t explain unless you read it.
Nao’s perspective of the story is the best part — it’s an excellent coming-of-age story, while also addressing the harshest realities of abuse, mental health, and spirituality. Ozeki takes the teenage perspective, and makes it raw, real, and unapologetic. Following Nao’s story is intensely emotional, and it gives the reader a window into non-westernized ways of life.
A Tale for the Time Being grapples with the realities of being both middle-aged and adolescent that many authors wouldn’t dare to touch, and Ozeki has created what I will forever consider an undying classic.