100% of Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong is written as diary entries portrayed in the voice of Ruth whom recently disengaged from her fiancé, has moved home for a year to help care for her father suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The diary entries loosely track her father’s progression with the disease. Let go from his position as a successful history professor, her father is struggling with his memory loss and his new life.
In order to keep my blog as transparent and trusthworthy as possible, it’s only fair to give you an honest review. Truthfully, I was not a fan of this book and my rating is more like a 2.5 star rating rounded up to 3 stars. The diary entries were very scattered with thoughts bouncing off the walls – most of the time I wasn’t really sure what was happening. The writing style was not the type that I gravitate towards reading, therefore it was rather difficult to follow this story with its one sentence flip flopping thoughts. It’s disappointing because the storyline had the potential to be so touching and moving yet it fell short for me.
There was one aspect that I thought was a very nice touch; as Ruth was growing up, her father kept a journal and wrote down silly things that she would do and say each day and he gifted her the journal for her 31st birthday. I liked the tenderness of these journal entries and felt like it was one of the only emotionally engaging parts of this book.
While it was a rather uneventful story to get through, it was a fairly quick book to read (I finished it in about 3 days). As you know from my recent posts, I love books that I find emotionally engaging, intellectually stimulating, and stories with characters that I fall in love and/or connect with. I wasn’t invested in any of the characters, but I did relate to Ruth having to serve as a caregiver to an ailing and sick parent. Having experienced a similar situation, I connected with Ruth and understood having to put life on hold to do everything you can as a supportive daughter.
I felt that this story fell short of captivating the reader and leaving them urging for more. To be honest, I was just trying to get through the book. Comparing this to Lisa Genova’s “Still Alice”, a story about Alzheimer’s that was so beautifully written and that taught me an incredible amount of information and compassion regarding the disease, it seemed as if it wasn’t at the forefront of this storyline. A disease that is so debilitating, frustrating and heart-wrenching was not given a voice in Goodbye, Vitamin. The story was very surface-level and the ending made you say “umm, so that’s it?”. We aren’t really given any indication of how Ruth’s life will continue or what her father’s future looks like. Throughout the book we get the impression of familial differences and struggles but again, it was approached at an arm’s length.
I can’t say that I gained any significant insight or emotion from this book but I respect the story because I’m a book lover and understand that you won’t LOVE every book you read. Goodbye, Vitamin wasn’t my cup of 5-star tea, but it may be somebody’s!