Monday, September 18, 2017

[Book Review] Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong is a heartbreaking, but lovely novel about family and growing up.

As it is written in a journal format, the content was a bit too choppy for my preference. However, I still enjoyed this read quite a bit!

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

A young woman returns home to care for her failing father in this fine, funny, and inescapably touching debut, from an affecting and wonderfully original new literary voice.

A few days after Christmas in a small suburb outside of L.A., pairs of a man's pants hang from the trees. The pants belong to Howard Young, a prominent history professor, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Howard's wife, Annie, summons their daughter, Ruth. Freshly disengaged from her fiance and still broken up about it, feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job and arrives home to find her parents' situation worse than she'd realized. Her father is erratically lucid and her mother, a devoted and creative cook, sees the sources of memory loss in every pot and pan. But as Howard's condition intensifies, the comedy in Ruth's situation takes hold, gently transforming her grief. She throws herself into caretaking: cooking dementia-fighting meals (a feast of jellyfish!), researching supplements, anything to reignite her father's once-notable memory. And when the university finally lets Howard go, Ruth and one of her father's handsome former students take their efforts to help Howard one step too far.

My thoughts:
This novel is written in a series of journal entries. Because of this, the content is quite jumpy and raw. The first couple pages were especially hard to follow as the narration jumps all over the place trying to set the story.

However, this novel is beautifully written. The things that the author deals with throughout are heartbreaking, frustrating, and silly at times, but so real. I liked that there wasn't a tidy ending, as it was just a year in the life of the main character.

One of my favorite features were the pages from her fathers journal where he wrote down little notes about Ruth as a child. These notes were anything from conversations they had, questions she had randomly asked, or any other situation, sprinkled with comments from the father about how amazed he was by you.

Beware, the negatives:
Like I said before, this novel is organized as a journal, which I am not usually a huge fan of. Occasionally I think this format can be done well, but rarely. The content here was just way too jumpy for me.

I felt absolutely nothing for the main character. Where this story was so focused on her and what she was going through, I really wanted to feel empathetic for her... but I just didn't. In fact, I had a hard time feeling anything for any of the characters. Such a bummer!

My favorite passages:
The light coming in through my apartment's bay windows would be pretty, except all it does is illuminate the dust on the floor.

"You're the doctor," I said. "What's your prescription?"
Try not to feel too shitty, was her main piece of advice. Stop, always, at 2.5 drinks. Make a list of good things – however small.

Sharing things is how things get started, and not sharing things is how they end.

"Hello, water," you said, holding the glass against the moonlight and shaking the pills, like they were dice you were ready to roll, in your other hand. "Goodbye, vitamin."

My final thoughts:
While reading, I absolutely could not put this one down. However, because of the format, this ended up just being an okay read for me.

Even so, I would highly recommend that others pick it up! It is most definitely a worthwhile read and I'm sure many others won't have the same irks as me! ;)

Thanks for reading!


  1. Sounds like one I might be skipping. However, I'm glad you found it to be at least worth your while. I usually like books written in journal format, but they can be tricky to pull off.

    1. Yeah, this one was a bit rough. If the book had been longer I think I would have DNFed.

  2. That's a pretty cover, shame it was a bit rough on the inside.

    Funny how people see books differently. For example, I really loved The Loving Husband - by Christobel Kent, yet she received some scathing reviews from a lot of Goodreads pals. I couldn't believe it. I wondered if I'd read a different book to them... or maybe, they changed some of the inside, like they changed the cover, to suit Americans? Who knows. LOL

    Luv Sassy:)

    1. I loved the cover as well! I would definitely still recommend this one, the format just wasn't for me :)

      And I agree! I love seeing how everyones opinions vary!