The book selection for May for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group is A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
"A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be."
In Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace--and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox--possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki's signature humor and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.
How does Ozeki seem to view the relationship between a writer and her reader? What do they owe each other? How must they combine in order to, in Nao's phrase, "make magic."?
Is there a way in which Nao and Ruth form two halves of the same character?
Suicide, whether in the form of Haruki #1's kamikaze mission or the contemplated suicides of Haruki #2 and Nao, hangs heavily over A Tale for the Time Being. Nevertheless, Ozeki's story manages to affirm life. How does Ozeki use suicide as a means to illustrate the value of life?
Responding to the ill treatment that Nao reports in her diary, Ruth's husband Oliver observes, "We live in a bully culture". Is he right? What responses to society's bullying does A Tale for the Time Being suggest? Are they likely to be effective?
What lessons does Jiko try to teach Nao to develop her "supapawa"? Are they the same that you would try to impart to a troubled teenaged girl? How else might you approach Nao's depression and other problems?
Let us know what you think of A Tale for the Time Being.
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Welcome to the internet home of the Kilbourn Public Library (KPL) Book Club. The KPL Book Club meets at the library once a month. A book is chosen for each month and then members of the book club meet the last Monday and Wednesday of every month for lively discussion and treats. While we can’t offer you treats via the internet, this KPL Reads blog was designed for those of you who would like to participate in the book club but don’t have time to join us at meetings. Each month KPL staff will post discussion topics and questions to get you “talking”. Join in the discussion by adding a post to the blog. Click on the word comments below the post you want to "talk" about and write your comment. Be sure to check back often to see feedback and comments.