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A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki: A book review

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book started out really well, keeping me hooked to the characters and the mystery which is Nao's story. But, it was a hard read that gradually became frustrating. The premise of the novel was very good with Nao's story and Ruth's interpretation running in parallel. But, I think it started to meander for a while in the middle with Ruth's end of the story becoming more boring by the minute. I guess the author thought that she was being clever in talking about philosophy, but there is definitely something to dislike when you are bowled over by your own cleverness so much that you get completely sidetracked and lose the bigger picture -the story- along the way. That is definitely what happened with Ruth. Despite this, it is to the author's credit that I could never get myself to give up on the novel completely and every few months I would read some more. I soldiered on this way many months when finally halfway through the novel, it again picked up pace. But right when it was going so well, the author decided that she needed to show off her knowledge on physics as well. So then, let's throw in some Quantum information theory and parallel worlds in there just for the heck of it. And that just irritates you so much, especially when you are in the business of science and you know how popular science is jazzed up for common folks. This book is so good in parts, it really intrigues you. Old Jiko's quiet presence and her peaceful persona even after having seen so much, Nao's transformation from a distressed, bullied child to a rebel and then to a mature woman who truly realizes her supapawa, the various phases that Nao's dad goes through, Haruki #1's letters, there is so much to like. But, the tendency of the author to act clever and show off her half-baked knowledge in philosophy and science just gets to you and almost ruins it. I have never been so frustrated by any book as I have with this one.
Suggestion to prospective readers: Maybe skip Ruth's story and stick to only Nao's, you will definitely enjoy it much more that way and also finish it faster. :P



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