Book Review: Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Goodbye Vitamin.jpg

Title: Goodbye, Vitamin

Author:  Rachel Khong

Published: July 2017

Rating: ★★★


Summary: Ruth heads home to spend a year with her dad while he suffers from Alzheimer’s, giving up her job and her independent life. Moving back in with her mom and dad brings her memories of her childhood and also makes her come to terms with her beloved father’s flaws.

Thoughts: I struggle to put my finger on the right word to describe how I feel about this book. It was written like a journal, but more so a record of someone’s stream of consciousness. One small paragraph in the present will lead to another about a connected memory in the past or a random musing or curiosity. Part of me loved this format as it really felt authentic to how thoughts are strung together in my own mind. It felt very real, like it was maybe a memoir rather than a fictional novel. The fiction-loving part of me, however, yearned for a consistently strung together story with longer passages of narration to paint the picture more fully. I only got to see the story through Ruth’s perspective and only in limited chunks. It felt like I could only see her world though a very narrow lens that was maybe even a bit dirty.

The way Ruth’s perspective illustrated her father’s illness was just so heart-breaking. Alzheimer’s really is an awful disease, and this book really helped to show how trying it can be to watch a loved one to suffer at its hands. Ruth moved away right after college and so her memories of her parents are sort frozen in time with how they were in her childhood memories. When she lives with them she is given a new view on them as people, not perfect parents, which is an adjustment for her. She kind of had her mom on the evil side and her dad on the good side, but upon closer inspection, she began to see that both her parents had their flaws, even her father that she placed on a pedestal. This was not a page-turner that kept me wondering what would happen next, but a much more subtle and nuanced story. Although it has been years since I have seen it, I kept thinking that if this book were made into a movie, it would probably look a lot like Garden State. It would definitely be a moody Indie with lots of scenes focusing on the ordinary accompanied by a folksy soundtrack.

 

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