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Goodbye, Vitamin

By: Rachel Khong

Publisher: Macmillan Trade

Imprint: Henry Holt & Co.

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9781250109163

Other Formats:

Trade Paperback

On Sale: | Pages: 208

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  • About the Book
  • Reviews
Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR; O, The Oprah Magazine; Vogue; San Francisco Chronicle; Esquire; Huffington Post; Nylon; Entertainment Weekly; BuzzFeed; Booklist; and The Independent"A quietly brilliant disquisition . . . told in prose that is so startling in its spare beauty that I found myself thinking about Khong's turns of phrase for days after I finished reading."--Doree Shafrir, The New York Times Book Review"One of those rare books that is both devastating and light-hearted, heartfelt, and joyful. . . . Don't miss it."--BuzzFeed"Hello, Rachel Khong. Kudos for this delectable take on familial devotion."--NPRHer life at a crossroads, a young woman goes home again in this funny and inescapably moving debut from a wonderfully original new literary voice.Freshly disengaged from her fianc and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents' home to find that situation more complicated than she'd realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth's mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth's father's condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming all her grief. Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humor, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one's footing in this life.
It doesn't exactly seem like a recipe for a darkly comic yet heartfelt novel, but that's exactly what “Goodbye, Vitamin” is. Told in a diary format over the year that Ruth spends at home, “Goodbye, Vitamin” is a quietly brilliant disquisition on family, relationships and adulthood, told in prose that is so startling in its spare beauty that I found myself thinking about Khong's turns of phrase for days after I'd finished reading.... It's refreshing to read female authors — among them, Jami Attenberg, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Marcy Dermansky — who are subverting the longstanding convention of adult men who feel stuck, who are emotionally unavailable, who find adulthood just out of reach, and who are often “saved” by a woman who has her life together. They, and now Khong, are showing that women can be screw-ups too.
—New York Times
“Tonight a man found Dad's pants in a tree lit with Christmas lights.” That's the opening sentence of Rachel Khong's debut novel “Goodbye, Vitamin,” and it encapsulates the virtues of this slim, wistful book; it's the sort that'll break your heart but leave you smiling.... Khong, writing in wry episodic chunks, somehow makes this story never sentimental, rarely sad and ever-surprising... And while a story about a parent whose mind is dimming can't possibly have a happy ending, Khong pulls off something nearly as good, leaving her characters surrounded by warm Christmas lights and glowing with something else. Ruth doesn't name it, but it's love.
—Seattle Times
Throughout, GOODBYE, VITAMIN explores the contrast between the acute heartache of a romantic relationship's end and the chronic heartache of losing a loved one to dementia. And it is interspersed with these small moments of joy, often when Ruth recognizes some moment of shared humanity with acquaintances or strangers, or as she allows herself to view her father and her family as simultaneously imperfect and indescribably precious.
San Francisco author Rachel Khong has managed to create an Alzheimer's novel that is heartbreaking but also funny, offering a fresh take on the disease and possible outcomes both for the people suffering from it and their caretakers.... But the real charm of the novel isn't the plot so much as the sparkling little details that pop up on every page, illuminating the dark material.... “Goodbye, Vitamin” never minimizes the difficulty of caring for someone with Alzheimer's. But it also shows how this care can be rewarding.
—San Francisco Chronicle
It's material for another grueling exploration of loss, and yet, against all odds, Ms. Khong has produced a book that's whimsical and funny.... Amid the fear and heartache there's plenty of absurdity, too, in her father's erratic behavior, though Ms. Khong never descends to mockery.... Mostly this sweet-natured novel is about Ruth's attempts to come to terms with a past her father can no longer remember while still attending to the quirky, fleeting joys of the present.
—Wall Street Journal
This fast read, while engaging and humorous and deeply touching, sometimes falls short by overreaching – some moments meant to be significant don't make sense. Even though the characters are presented in small fragments, by the end they are well-developed and Khong has created something special. The book leaves you wanting more... This is a novel that brings out the themes of family, forgiveness and memories, and the fallacies they can contain.
—Charlotte Observer
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