My library choices have been killing it these days between this, Yonahlossee, and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. All come highly recommended, but this book is basically the best of Haruki Murakami tossed together with a bit of Junot Diaz and a dash of Margaret Atwood. So you know, nothing big or important or worth comparing to any of my favorite authors.
But honestly, I can’t remember the last time I read something so flawlessly plotted and wonderfully inventive. As pleasurable as Yonahlossee was to read, I knew my enjoyment of it was somewhat irrational, if not something worth feeling guilty over; I’m a sucker for anything set at a boarding school, but I could recognize flaws in the plotting and a certain flatness in the characterization. A Tale for the Time Being didn’t have a boarding school but it did have a weird-ass sixteen year old going to school in Japan and visiting her Buddhist nun great-grandmother - a lot like someone plucked out of a Murakami novel, but without the subtle sexualization that can send Murakami’s female characters perilously close to Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory. And Nao is nothing less than fully three-dimensional. I half expected the last page to have a diagram of how to fold the pages so she’d come to life, and then walk off to live - and later, possibly write - the next part of her letter to you.
tl;dr books are great read this one!!!