I'm not sure how to describe this book. On the surface, it looks straightforward and simple, but there are layers and overlaps to this story. (Think Schrodinger's Cat.) I've never read Ruth Ozeki before, but I'm glad I stumbled onto this book when I was at the library.
It begins with Nao Yasutani, a 16-year-old Japanese teen, and her diary; she is contemplating suicide, but wanting to write the life story of her great-grandmother, Jiko, first. Jiko is a Zen Buddhist nun who claims to be 104. She teaches her great-granddaughter what it means to be a time being.
"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."Then there's Ruth, a middle-aged Japanese American woman living on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Oliver. One morning she finds a red Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore. In the lunchbox? Nao's diary.
Here's where the overlapping begins: between Nao writing her story, and Ruth reading it. They are years and miles apart, yet somehow their lives intersect. I loved how Ozeki intertwines their narratives. Talk about creative. And so well-written. This is an unexpected, and unique novel; one I won't soon forget.
"If you do decide to read on, then guess what? You're my kind of time being and together we'll make magic."