A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki Essay

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki Essay

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The book I enjoyed most in the past year is A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. The story switches back and forth between the diary of Nao, a suicidal teenage girl who is determined to record the life story of her great-grandmother Jiko, and Ruth, a women who lives on a remote Pacific island and discovered Nao’s diary washed up on the shore, as a result of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. After reading a few pages of the diary, Ruth is mesmerized by it and decided to find out about Nao’s life. The book covered numerous themes, including Zen Buddhism, natural disaster, Kamikaze pilots, suicide, bullying, quantum mechanics, and time. But something that intrigued me the most is the personal growth of Nao.
Nao is a very unhappy girl; after her father lost his job as a game developer, her family is forced to move from California to a poor neighborhood in Japan. Her life has changed completely. Her father became jobless, depressed, and later suicidal; her mother found a job and took care of the family income, however she gives no care about her husband and daughter’s emotional status. In school, Nao is bullied by classmates and even a teacher who collaborates with them in order to gain his popularity. Upon reading all this, there is something that surprises me. Despite how sad these events seem to a normal teenage girl, Nao tells her story in a casual tone. She is treated often in such way that it is already common to her. One time when her class set up a funeral for her, she simply felt relieved because everyone acted as if she didn’t exist. Although she is already used to her classmate’s bullying, she does have other emotions, such as despise towards her father, and hatred towards the popular girl Reiko. She only views the world as a h...


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...Nao learned the horrible truth that the Haruki she had admired is only the exact opposite of what he is really like. Haruki is a peaceful person who loves to study French literature and secretly detested the war. Instead of sacrificing himself to kill his so-called enemy, he drove his plane into the sea. After Jiko’s funeral, Nao’s father revealed the truth about his job loss: the army thought his design of the video game is very ingenious and want to experiment it in real life. After he refused, he was fired. Astonished by the truth, Nao felt deeply ashamed for what she thought of her father before. Having understood each other, Nao and her father regained hope and decided to live on. She had set goals for her future, return to school to study French, also write the story of Jiko’s life. The ending of the diary is very hopeful and indicated a new beginning for Nao.

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