I loved this book! A Tale for the Time Being is very well written and combines time together seamlessly. The plot alone is great, Ruth in Canada found a diary of a Japanese teenager, Nao, who is being bullied and has a suicidal father. Ruth and the readers while reading Nao’s diary feel there is a urgency to help her even though the diary is old and whatever preventable actions could of been taken to save Nao it was too late, but you forget that and want to still help her. While Nao is struggling she visits her great grandmother, Jiko, who is a Buddhist Nun, and hears stories about her great uncle who her father is named after that was a pilot during WWII. Ruth tries to understand Nao and figure out more about her and how her diary ended up in her hands. Then there is a level of the plot that is beyond what is described and it is hard to put into words, but the gist is about the meaning of time and possibilities.
The main characters Ruth and Nao alternate between chapters and unlike many books that do this, it is done right. There isn’t any mix up feelings about who is speaking in the chapter, the author gave each character a very unique feel. It is an emotional ride, but a good ride and pays off.
I enjoyed the ending. It is a bit abstract where the reader can come up with multiple conclusions and still never know. The last part of the book about infinite universes built of infinite possibilities gives the ending a supernatural feeling, but it is a real scientific theory. Some spoilers ahead to explain what I mean. Ruth swears the last pages are missing when Nao’s father is about to commit suicide and Nao might too after visiting her dying great-grandmother. Ruth has a dream and she prevents the suicide of the father and places the pilots journal into a box to be found. When she wakes up the journal has more pages filled out. Did she alternate Nao’s history by intervening in her dream? Maybe. While I loved the ending, I can understand how it could be frustrating for other readers, but it does fit with Buddhist beliefs, which makes it perfect in my opinion.