This review cannot begin in any other way than by complimenting the beautiful proof copy that I have received from the publisher. The white background with a goldfish and a little pill is brilliant and I love that it has meaning behind it. The final cover of this book as you’ve seen by now features a banana and it very much stands out. I’m sure that it will attract and intrigue many future readers to check it out. Both cover designs of the book are so amazing and show this book in its best light.This book is told from the perspective of Ruth who is thirty years old – who works as a sonographer, was left by her fiance and is heart broken – and was asked by her mother to come back home for a year to take care of her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She agrees. From that point on we are introduced to Ruth’s family, friends and her life back home which is told in a very clever and funny way. Her father was a Professor at a college but sadly due to his disease can no longer teach. Howard, the father, is the center of the story – because of the nature of his disease Ruth and her mother read up on ways to promote a healthier lifestyle into their family by eating properly (eating cauliflower, broccoli, taking vitamin d, omega 3 fats and other things) and looking up interesting studies on Alzheimer’s disease (experiments on rats, how eating jellyfish can prevent dementia..).
The story itself is sad – a person in the family has Alzheimer’s, is slowly losing their memory each day and the whole family has to deal with it and stay sane in the process – but it is told in a way which makes you laugh out loud and feel for the family, Ruth and Howard. I loved how his former students and Ruth showed support and made him teach again the lectures they have already learned before and how one time they had a lecture in Disneyland. There was also this funny exchange between two ‘bros’ which made me laugh out loud!
‘ ‘’Shit,’’ says one bro, coughing. ‘’I think I’m allergic to this giant raisin!’’
‘’That’s not a raisin, Steve,’’ says another bro. ‘’That’s a Medjool date.’’ ‘
The structure of the novel might not be for everyone: it is told from a first person narrative and it has entries [some are long and some short] for each month of the year [which Ruth spends in her family home]. I have personally very much enjoyed the book and have highlighted quite a lot of information about Alzheimer’s disease which were presented to the reader. I love how we’re left with the question of how we perceive our parents and how they perceive us. How memories should be cherished because one day – they might disappear. When you really think about it the worst thing that can happen to a parent is to slowly forget who they are and to forget the person they loved more than anything in the world. The entries from her father were very sweet and I really enjoyed them because they were funny and hard at times.
‘Today, when I told you to behave, you roared angrily: I’M BEING HAVE.’
Overall this is a very lovely depiction of a family dealing with one of the worst illnesses one could have.
‘Today you asked me, ‘’What are nerds?’’ And when I said, ‘’They’re people who are smart, and really interested in studying a subject,’’ you said that your mother had told you there were no nerds in your elbow, and that’s why it didn’t hurt when you pinched there. Nerves! I thought, but didn’t correct you. ‘
I would like to thank the publisher (Simon and Schuester UK) for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.
Rachel Khong grew up in Southern California, and holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Florida. From 2011 to 2016, she was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Joyland, American Short Fiction, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, and California Sunday. She lives in San Francisco. Goodbye, Vitamin is her first novel.