A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki This novel is wholly original, yet it also reminded me of two of my favorite books in the recent past -- Haruki Murakami's [b:1Q84|10357575|1Q84 |Haruki Murakami|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359439026s/10357575.jpg|18160093] and David Mitchell's [b:Cloud Atlas|49628|Cloud Atlas|David Mitchell|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1344305390s/49628.jpg|1871423].

"1Q84" and "A Tale for the Time Being" both examine the realm of the other -- alternate realities, quantum theories, lives that are opposite but yet the same.

Two quotes from "Cloud Atlas" fit right in with Ozeki's lovely novel:

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

and

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”

Ozeki's novel stands with these other masterpieces, yet stands alone too. Together. Apart. It is the same. (A statement you can surely appreciate if you have read this novel.)

Nao is a charming, heartwarming, & heartbreaking narrator. Not since Lisbeth Salander ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") have I so enjoyed a character. Nao is so real, so fresh, someone I wish I knew. Jiko is yet another fabulous woman in this novel, another person I wish I could know. Ruth is more stand-offish, yet she's integral to the story, to the raveling & unraveling of the pacing, the time, the tempo of the story....

With deceptively understated simplicity (it's really just a teen girl's diary we're reading, after all), Ozeki manages to gift you, the reader, with a mind-expanding array of topics, ranging from love, home, bullying, suicide, war, the recent Japanese tsunami, to Zen, quantum physics, and the shifting realities between author & reader. This novel will break your heart & will make it grow too (along with your mind).

Highly recommended.