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review 2017-12-19 00:00
A Tale for the Time Being (Audio)
A Tale for the Time Being (Audio) - Ruth Ozeki This was my pick for Read Harder 2017's Task 19. There are actually several characters of color who go on spiritual journeys. A Tale for the Time Being has two protagonists, both are women of color and then some second tier characters have their own spiritual journeys as well. The book opens with Nao, who I would call the main protagonist. She is one of those characters who live between cultures and is therefore harder to understand and has a harder time relating to people of either culture. She's lonely at school where she can't relate to other students who grew up in Japan, but also at home. Her parents have enough of their own issues that they don't have the awareness to deal with hers, until Nao's issues practically hit them in the face.

Ruth is the other protagonist. This part of the story is a little more familiar for Western audiences despite that Ruth is a protagonist of color. Also of Japanese heritage, she takes a special interest in Nao's diary after it washes up on the shores of her local beach in Canada along with other items from Japan. The assumption around town is that these items were washed away in the tsunami that had hit Japan in 2011. More than anything else that has washed up though, this diary and the few things with it are more personal to Ruth. Her character arc and spiritual journey is just as pronounced as Nao's as she searches for what may have happened to Nao.

For me, Nao's journey is by far the more interesting one. She goes through so much and her family had been through so much. There's also a magnificent shifting of perspective and the way they know and see each other. Its a multigenerational kind of story that has several beautiful layers but also several horrific and triggering scenes. Some triggers to expect in this book are suicide and suicidal thoughts, rape, bullying, depression, and child prostitution.

With triggers like that, I was also surprised to find the rather perfect way it resolved. There's some magical realism that comes into play, but it had been there from the beginning too. And perfect does not mean that life goes on as if nothing ever happened, quite the contrary. There are still mysteries left to the story too, but these are the kind if mysteries that are true to life. Sometimes we just don't get to know about some things we are looking for. I rather liked that.

Altogether, it's one of my favorite books this year.
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review 2017-10-24 00:00
A Tale for the Time Being
A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki This book just didn't work for me. It's written well, but it just isn't my kind of story. It made me feel depressed.
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review 2017-04-25 20:35
A great and beautiful drift
A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

This is a story about drift. Drift in the sense of ocean currents that wash artifacts up on a distant shore. Drift in the sense of our lives, as we bob along, hopefully keeping our heads above the waves but sometimes finding it easier to let ourselves sink down to the bottom. And I think that the best headspace to read this book in, is to allow yourself to drift through the story.


It is a story that winds the lives of our two narrators, calling into question the role of reader and storyteller by way of quantum physics and Buddhism. Curious? Confused? Either you'll really get into A Tale for the Time Being, or it won't be your cup of tea. I suspect that fellow Murakami lovers will enjoy the existential nature of it.


So I'm not going to tell you any more. I'm not going to dissect character or give you more plot than you already have. Get comfortable, open it, take a deep breath, and plunge.

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review 2016-06-29 23:13
A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

Ahh, magical realism. What a delightful read!!

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review 2016-04-26 17:17
A Middle Ages Adventure for Middle Grades!
Stumbling On A Tale (TIME TO TIME Book 2) - Suzanne Roche

Books for middle school readers about the middle ages are too often dry affairs that favor historical fact over captivating magical scenes. This is far from the case in Stumbling on a Tale, the latest addition to the 'Time to Time Kids' series, which decorates its facts with the compellingly colorful embellishment of fiction.


A lively introduction firmly cements the adventure with a dose of historical explanation that creates a solid backdrop of world history, setting the stage for the story to follow.


Enter twelve-year-old Henry Hawkins and his older stepsister Peri, who are still developing their newfound relationship as siblings. Henry's stepsister isn't the shy, antisocial girl he'd envisioned a fifteen-year-old to be: she's precocious, curious, and always ready to step into trouble - and thus, she's at the top of his list of things to worry about.


They're again playing with a curious book that holds strange powers; this time trying to find out more about its author and publisher. When Max repeats the sequence of events that led to their last time-traveling history adventure, disaster once again strikes. This time they're not in 1900s New York City, but are in a forest in an era that feels much older.


The key to returning home lies in finding an antique. The only problem is that Max, who has brought them all here, has no idea what the antique is - and so they are looking for a needle in a haystack.


Knights, dragons, and lost siblings - oh my! Winding through the historical encounters are the real, contemporary concerns of kids who have had to make big adjustments to modern times.


It may take a return home to make these Middle Ages events make sense - and even then, life becomes more complicated when time travel adventures are added to the mix.


Quizzes, puzzles, riddles and games, activities, and even recipes at the conclusion of the story add value to this tale, which ends in a manner that paves the way for more time-traveling history explorations; but its real meat and protein lie in chapters packed with a vivid blend of adventure quest and historical insights. 


As the siblings come to realize some of the meanings of the antiques, the book, and their encounters, they also come to absorb wisdom and more mature approaches to problem-solving and begin to understand how myths, quests, and history intersect.


A rollicking good adventure story spiced with real insights on past and present make Stumbling on a Tale a lively read highly recommended for any middle-grade fan of time travel action stories.

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