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Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by Rachel Khong
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Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

by Rachel Khong

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Rachel Khong’s first novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, is a December to December journal of forgetting, remembrance, and healing. Ruth is home for Christmas for the first time in a few years. She would have been spending Christmas with fiancé’s family, but he broke up with her a few months back in a particularly cowardly and feeble way. In the midst of their move to a new house, he lets drop that he’s actually moving in with another woman. She’s feeling unmoored, so when her mom suggests she come home for a time to help with her father whose losing himself to Alzheimers, she heads back home.

Over the year, she learns things she didn’t want to know about both her parents. They are a family, which means they fight, make up, argue, and forgive. Her brother’s relationship with her father is more complicated as he was still home when his father’s drinking and behavior was most damaging. Nonetheless, there is always this tie that holds them together no matter the push and pull and the tensions that strain it.

This is a small story with a trajectory plotted by biology, but it surprises and delights thanks to the reality of this family’s connections that hold together through everything.

Goodbye, Vitamin is very much a story of the internet era. While at the beginning, the daily journals are longer and more expositor, as they year progresses, they become more an d more like Facebook status updates. Short, aphoristic, anecdotal. It’s full of the kind of humorous quips and dialogue that you come across on Twitter and Facebook. Her dad gives her pages from a journal he kept about her.” Today you…” each entry begins and it’s very much “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” This makes for a lot of smiles and giggles that offset the tragedy of a father losing his memories and this brilliant teacher not being allowed to teach anymore.

There is a lot of sweetness. Some of his students arrange to take a “class” he teaches wherever they can find a place to hold it as her father has been banned from campus. They write papers, come to class…a testament to what a great teacher he must have been. There’s humor. Her father wants no more crucified (cruciferous) vegetables so she makes a meaty meal in which she swears no veggies were harmed. There are puns and malaprop galore, so those who love language will find special pleasure in the book.

I liked it a lot. The journalized writing will also make it a pleasure for people who can only read in short moments. It’s easy to put down and pick up and stay with the story. I read it while reading other books, switching between them and never felt I lost my place. I came to care about this family, all of them and appreciate this story so rich in compassion and understanding.

Goodbye, Vitamin will be released July 1st. I received a copy from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.

★★★★

http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/9781250109163/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | May 31, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Rachel did a good job describing the moments where Alzheimer's shows it's irrational times and then quickly reverts to normalcy.
She showed much love in her caring during this roller coaster existence. A good book to again try and understand this awful disease. I loved the last few pages of paragraph remembrances... ( )
  hammockqueen | May 31, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Goodbye, Vitamin tells a heartbreaking story of the impact of Alzheimer’s on both the individual afflicted and those who love that individual. Khong accurately depicts the effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain and how scary those effects are to everyone involved. She also includes some interesting information on how the disease was named which I enjoyed learning.

I think my anticipation of how good this book would be may have ended up coloring how I felt about it in the end. From the first time I read about Goodbye, Vitamin I was dying to read it. When I finally got a copy and sat down to read it, I think the book could not meet my high expectations, and several of my recent reads made Goodbye, Vitamin not quite as appealing as it might have been otherwise. I am only including these thoughts because I might have liked the book better in other circumstances.

A recent trend in literature seems to be a scattered, random method of telling a story. Goodbye, Vitamin is written this way as well as Chemistry by Weike Wang. I felt Wang managed this method better, and as a result, I enjoyed that story a bit better. I found Goodbye, Vitamin to be a bit hard to follow and was not always sure what point she was trying to make, but overall I was glad that I read it.

Thanks to LibraryThing and Henry Holt and Company for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review. ( )
  cburnett5 | May 28, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The story of a woman who slowly changes places with her father, as she be comes his caregiver as he struggles with Alzheimer's disease. Tragic at times, and then funny in the next moment, her account rings true. ( )
  NancyTiffany | May 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Goodbye, Vitamin is a one-year slice of thirty-year-old Ruth's life--the year during which she returns to her childhood home to help care for her father, until recently a highly regarded college professor, who is descending into Alzheimer's disease. The interactions among the family members and another major character, the professor's last teaching assistant, ring so true to life that it's almost spooky. This is a realistic family, striving with all their hearts to take care of Dad, with love, tolerance, and a poignant sort of humor--and, occasionally, anger. Their story is chronicled through Ruth's journal entries, including quotations from the journal Dad kept when she was growing up. Her childish questions and actions--scraping the seeds off of bagels, for example, and planting them in the garden in hopes of growing a bagel tree--and, late in the book, her observations of her father's childlike questions and actions--for example, watching a baseball game and asking what kind of ball it was; spoon-feeding tuna from a can to the neighbor's cat--vividly point up the Alzheimer sufferer's regression.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy books about family relationships and those who have dealt (or are dealing) with a loved one with dementia. ( )
  Fjumonvi | May 20, 2017 |
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