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Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

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Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel

ratings:
4/5 (104 ratings)
Length:
208 pages
2 hours
Released:
Jul 11, 2017
ISBN:
9781250109156
Format:
Book

Description

From Scribd: About the Book

In Rachel Khong’s debut novel, the story opens with Ruth as her engagement to her fiance ends. Feeling a bit lost in life, she quits her job and moves home. It’s only after she shows up on her parents’ doorstep that she finds out her father, a prominent history professor, is showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Things in her family are much more complicated than she realized. As her father’s condition intensifies, her mother also becomes more erratic, and Ruth begins to see both the comedy and the stress of her situation.

Khong’s prose is praised as “devastating” and “light-hearted” at the same time. Showing insight, humor, and tenderness, this story gently works through feelings of loss, love, and trying to find your place in life.

Goodbye, Vitamin was named 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. It is also a finalist in the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and the winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction.

Released:
Jul 11, 2017
ISBN:
9781250109156
Format:
Book

About the author

Rachel Khong grew up in Southern California and holds degrees from Yale University and the University of Florida. From 2011 to 2016, she was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin House, Buzzfeed, Joyland, American Short Fiction, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, and California Sunday. She lives in San Francisco. Goodbye, Vitamin is her first novel.


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Goodbye, Vitamin - Rachel Khong

parents

December 26

Tonight a man found Dad’s pants in a tree lit with Christmas lights. The stranger called and said, I have some pants? Belonging to a Howard Young?

Well, shit, I said. I put the phone down to verify that Dad was home and had pants on. He was, and did.

Yesterday, on Mom’s orders, I’d written his name and our number in permanent marker onto the tags of all his clothes.

Apparently what he’s done, in protest, is pitched the numbered clothing into trees. Up and down Euclid, his slacks and shirts hang from the branches. The downtown trees have their holiday lights in them, and this man who called had, while driving, noticed the clothes, illuminated.

December 27

In the morning, when I go to fetch them, city workers are removing the lights from the trees and the decorative bows from the lampposts. One man unties a bow and tosses it to his partner on the ground. All the great bright gold bows are piled in the bed of an enormous pickup truck parked in the plaza.

In that same plaza, a frustrated man is saying to his dog, Why are you being this way? A baby in a stroller is wearing sunglasses.

Dad, all my hard work, I say, later at home. I’ve collected a pair of pants, two shirts, a few knotted-up ties.

Now that’s unnecessary, Dad says, angrily, when I return them.

*   *   *

I got here on Christmas Eve. I’m home for the holidays, like you’re supposed to be. It’s the first time in a long time. Under ordinary circumstances—the circumstances that had become ordinary—I would have gone to Joel’s. His mother would have popped popcorn for garlands and his father would have baked a stollen. His twin brother would have hit on me. In the bathroom, there would have been a new, grocery-brand toothbrush with a gift label on it, my name in his mother’s handwriting: RUTH.

*   *   *

This year, with nowhere to go—no Joel and no Charleston—I made the drive down. It’s been three or four Christmases away. From San Francisco, where I live, it would have been an easy six hours south. Up to you, Joel would say, but I always chose Charleston. Merry Christmas, we’d tell my parents over speakerphone.

*   *   *

Except for Linus being gone, everything was the same. Mom had decorated her biggest potted ficus in tinsel and lights, and with the ornaments we’d made as kids—painted macaroni framing our school pictures, ancient peanuts I’d painted into snowmen with apathetic faces. She’d hung our stockings over the fireplace, even Linus’s. When I asked if I could shell a snowman—to see what the twenty-year-old peanut inside looked like—Mom said, sternly, Don’t you dare.

Christmas morning, Dad pulled out a small, worn, red notebook. He explained he’s kept it since I was very little. Inside there are letters to me. He’d been waiting for the proper time to share them, but it had slipped his mind—wouldn’t you know—until now. He showed me a page from this notebook:

Today you asked me where metal comes from. You asked me what flavor are germs. You were distressed because your pair of gloves had gone missing. When I asked you for a description, you said: they are sort of shaped like my hands.

Then he closed the notebook, very suddenly, and said, as though angry, That’s enough.

December 29

Now Mom is asking if I could stay awhile, to keep an extra eye on things.

By things she means Dad, whose mind is not what it used to be.

It comes as a surprise. Things aren’t so bad—Dad doesn’t seem any different—on top of which, my mother hates to ask for anything.

Just the year, Mom repeats, when I can’t manage to answer. Think about it.

*   *   *

On my way to the bathroom, I catch my mother shouting, No, no, no! You’re expensive! to a vitamin she’s dropped. Gingko, I think.

*   *   *

The first things started approximately last year: Dad forgetting his wallet, forgetting faces, forgetting to turn the faucet off. Then it was bumping into things and feeling tired even after full nights of sleep. That he’d been a drinker, Dr. Lung said, didn’t help.

There is, presently, no single test or scan that can diagnose dementia with complete accuracy. It’s only after the person is dead that you can cut his or her brain open and look for telltale plaques and tangles. For now, it’s process of elimination. What we have are tests that rule out other possible causes of memory loss. In diagnosing Alzheimer’s, doctors can only tell you everything that it isn’t.

What my father doesn’t have: hyperthyroidism, a kidney or liver disorder, an infection, a nutritional deficiency. Deficiencies of vitamin B-12 and folic acid can cause memory loss and are treatable.

I’m just straight-up demented, Dad says.

December 31

This morning I packed an overnight bag, wished my parents a Happy New Year, and began the drive to Silver Lake, to spend New Year’s Eve with Bonnie. She’s the one with the plans. For the night, I mean. Lately it’s hard to make plans at all.

Traffic is worse than usual on the 101, but festive at least. Every window is rolled down. To my right, a tan man in an also tan Escapade has a Christmas song playing. It’s the one that starts like the Pachelbel Canon in D and then some kids start singing On this night! On this night! On this very Christmas night!

He is blasting it, tapping his cigarette out his window to the tune.

*   *   *

For a long time on the freeway I trail a chicken truck that rains white feathers onto my windshield. I try to windshield-wipe them, which only results in their getting stuck in the wipers and moving enchantingly.

Robert Kearns, who invented the intermittent windshield wiper, was legally blind in one eye. It’s something Joel told me once. An errant champagne cork shot Kearns in the eye on his wedding night. While driving his Ford Galaxie through light rain, he had the idea of modeling the windshield-wiping mechanism on the human eye, which blinks every few seconds rather than continuously.

I remember absently parroting that fact to Joel years later, forgetting—in that moment—that he was the one who’d originally told me. Oh really? he said, as though it was the first time he’d ever heard it. Even now I don’t know if he was humoring me or if he’d genuinely forgotten.

*   *   *

The door to Bonnie’s apartment is unlocked, so I let myself in. The room smells like toast. In anticipation of me, she’s rolled her rug to one side of the living room and laid the Sports section out on the living-room floor.

Hey! Bonnie calls from the bathroom, then flushes. The heater is broken, so I’m running the oven all day, she explains. Can I interest you in some toast?

Bonnie is a painter, but lately she makes her living three or four different ways. One of the ways is cutting hair. She won’t cut your hair if you’ve newly been through a breakup. That’s her rule. See how you feel in six weeks, she’ll tell you, and if you still want the haircut then, she’ll do it. But not before.

The reason she’s making an exception for me is that, after a breakup, all I want to do is grow a cloak of hair and hide in it. Because she is my oldest, best friend—we met as children, at the college where our fathers taught—she knows this.

Sit, Bonnie instructs, pointing at the kitchen stool she’s relocated to the living room. She snips a neat hole out of the front page and drops the newspaper bib over my head. She hands me a glass of iced tea, which is more for her entertainment than my refreshment: occasionally, I raise the tea to my face, trying my best not to move, and stab myself with the straw.

Divorce Court is on TV while Bonnie cuts my hair. At the end of the show, after the man has not gotten the settlement he wanted, and neither party is very satisfied, he is asked if he has anything to add.

You still feed me, he says ominously into the camera, addressing his ex-wife. You still the fool.

*   *   *

What Joel said: that it was not about her. But how do you believe a thing like that, when the facts so unquestionably dwarf the claim? The facts are: the two of them are now living in South Carolina, not far from his family—happier, presumably, than we ever were.

Last June in San Francisco, all our things packed into boxes, I had to caramelize onions in the only clean pan I could find, a cookie sheet. I mixed them in with potatoes I’d microwaved and mashed, and that was our last dinner, though I hadn’t known at the time.

We were switching neighborhoods—that was what I thought. I thought we were moving into a one-bedroom in Bernal Heights. I thought we were moving because the space was bigger, and the rent was curiously reasonable. Joel had taken great care to pack his things separate from mine, and I had thought that he was only Joel being Joel, when actually it was Joel not coming with me.

There were signs, I guess, I’d chosen to ignore. At parties, talking to another woman, Joel used to reach out to touch me lightly when I walked by, as if to say, Don’t worry, I still like you the best. I noticed when it stopped happening. I told myself that it wasn’t anything.

*   *   *

Anyway, the point is, I didn’t catch on, and what could I have done differently if I had? He told me, Ruth, don’t get me wrong, I care for you deeply. He said that! And what I thought then—and what I still think now—was, That’s not something to say. That isn’t anything.

Forget it, Bonnie says. He doesn’t deserve you, she says, sternly, the way friends assure with a lot of conviction but have no way of knowing for certain. What if we deserved each other exactly?

*   *   *

The party is in Highland Park, at the home of Bonnie’s friend Charles, from art school. Before it, we drink tumblers of vodka in Bonnie’s kitchen and chase them with baby carrots dipped in sugar, the way we used to.

At the door, greeting us, Charles seems nervous or flustered. His face is completely pink. Does he have a crush on you? I ask Bonnie, once Charles has moved on to greeting newer guests. But she says no, it’s that he’s eaten too many Wheat Thins. All Charles had was a niacin flush, from all the enriched flour. It’s happened before, Bonnie tells me. The two of them dated, very briefly in college, and that’s how she knows. He still loves Wheat Thins. He’s still unable to exercise restraint around them.

Inside, a group is assembled in front of a TV that’s playing the recorded broadcast of the ball dropping in Times Square. Many of them have familiar faces, but I have trouble placing them. Three or four people, you can tell, have fresh haircuts. I’m relieved it isn’t just me.

Ruth? one of the familiar-looking people says. He has a thick red beard and ears the shape of paper clips—Jared, my high school biology lab partner. I know—by the unabashed way he’s talking—he’s forgotten that he was not a very good lab partner. He’s a sushi chef now. He graduated recently from a special sushi academy. He has a knack for peeling eels.

Jared asks what I’ve been up to, and if I’m living in LA, and I tell him, no, San Francisco. But I’m considering staying home for the year, to keep an eye on my dad, who’s having lapses in memory. I don’t know why I say that—lapses in memory. It was what my mother had said, and I was echoing it, because I’d never had to articulate it before.

Only for the year, I say again.

He raises a punch glass full of something bright blue and knocks it against my champagne. Cheers, Jared says, full of admiration. It’s too much. I excuse myself. I tell Jared I’ve forgotten something in my car.

In the car, I stretch my legs out across the backseat. I reach gingerly into my purse to retrieve my phone. Gingerly, because my purse is full of trash—so many receipts and pamphlets and ticket stubs I’m afraid I’ll get a paper

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Reviews

What people think about Goodbye, Vitamin

4.0
104 ratings / 42 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    I was truly moved by this loving, quirky, funny, clever, sad book.
  • (3/5)
    Notes for a first novel. Lots of ideas and some properly funny lines, but it felt underdone. It's rare that I think an author needed another 50 pages to flesh things out and tell an actual story rather than carve out a loosely contained series of vignettes. I don't mind things being left unresolved, because they weren't properly cooked to begin with. It was a book that demanded too little investment.
  • (4/5)
    Ruth comes home to spend Christmas with her parents and ends up agreeing to stay for a year to help out with her father as he experiences growing symptoms of dementia. While there, she tries to get over a bad breakup, and learns some things about her parents' marriage.Despite some heavy subject matter, this is a very light-feeling, very quick-reading novel. A little too much so for me, to be honest. And it's written in a disjointed, causal style full of random thoughts that pop into the main character's head, which is something that often works well for me, but seemed kind of unsatisfying here. It's not bad. Occasionally it's quite charming, and there are moments of poignancy toward the end. But it did leave me kind of wishing I'd just read something with a little more heft.
  • (5/5)
    I highly recommend this book. Ruth goes home for Christmas after her boyfriend moves out. She ends up staying to help her mother cope with her father's advancing Alzheimer's. Although the subject is sad, there is such humor and love in the familial relationships that I couldn't help racing through the book.
  • (3/5)
    After a bad breakup, Ruth moves home to Southern California, where her in with her eccentric, dysfunctional family lives. Her history professor father has Alzheimer's disease. Her mother and brother and are bitter about the drinking and philandering the father did before dementia set in. Ruth, who had always had a special bond with her father, does everything she can to try to improve his life, including working with a handsome former student of his to set up a fake "class" for him to teach. Here plausibility goes out the window.I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it is a quick, engaging read. On the other, many of the characters' conversations consist of mildly interesting factoids, which do not substitute for character development. Moreover, aside from some observations about sundowning and door knob placement, the narrative doesn't talk about the day to day nitty-gritty of caregiving as much as I would have liked. Recommended with reservations.
  • (3/5)
    A year in the life of Ruth, who has recently broken up with her fiance Joel, and returns to her parents' home to help care for her father, who has dementia. The narration is laconic and detached, and I only intermittently identified with/bonded with Ruth. There were touching moments and humorous stories and I enjoyed it in a gentle way. Then it just ended.
  • (4/5)
    I liked how the author captured the Young family. They were not perfect but they portrayed a normal family struggling to survive and along the way they learned how to live and love again as a family. Ruth is a good daughter willing to help out her parents. Although, for me the stars of this book are Ruth's parents, Howard and Annie. Their maturity and wisdom really lends to the story. Howard showed that although he may be dealing with Alzheimer's he was still a person. When he was teaching his small class room of students is where he shined the most. There was not a lot of detail spent in the class room, it seemed as if Howard was in the present and it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. Than there is Annie. The fact that she went to such extremes by tossing out all of the aluminum pots and pans; thus, no more home cooked meals but yet she could be found sliding pizza under the door when Howard locks himself in his office. She was so endearing. Ruth was the one that did the most growing in this book. She found herself again after his breakup. Not only this but she had a new outlook on life. All I have to say about this book is...Goodbye Vitamin, Hello, Love.
  • (4/5)
    Going home to help care for her father's developing dementia, for a year, is a story that seemed to be possibly more of a memoir than a novel. i wondered about Knong's experiences within her own family.There are amusing and very warm descriptions of family life along with the disruptions that have apparently been going on for years, Ruth provides memories from earlier times, partly from a journal her father kept about her as a small child. As the year comes to an end the question is left up-in-the-air---what has been accomplished and where are things going? Khong's writing is very descriptive---we can see and hear the characters relate to each other. Does Khong need a sequel to develop what happens next in more than just the father's situation? Is Khong letting Ruth mostly escape from a long drawn health situation or does the presence of Theo (a possibly developing relationship) mean that Ruth will be returning home frequently?
  • (4/5)
    Goodbye, Vitamin is a one-year slice of thirty-year-old Ruth's life--the year during which she returns to her childhood home to help care for her father, until recently a highly regarded college professor, who is descending into Alzheimer's disease. The interactions among the family members and another major character, the professor's last teaching assistant, ring so true to life that it's almost spooky. This is a realistic family, striving with all their hearts to take care of Dad, with love, tolerance, and a poignant sort of humor--and, occasionally, anger. Their story is chronicled through Ruth's journal entries, including quotations from the journal Dad kept when she was growing up. Her childish questions and actions--scraping the seeds off of bagels, for example, and planting them in the garden in hopes of growing a bagel tree--and, late in the book, her observations of her father's childlike questions and actions--for example, watching a baseball game and asking what kind of ball it was; spoon-feeding tuna from a can to the neighbor's cat--vividly point up the Alzheimer sufferer's regression.Highly recommended for those who enjoy books about family relationships and those who have dealt (or are dealing) with a loved one with dementia.
  • (4/5)
    Rachel Khong’s Goodbye, Vitamin is about one family’s experience with an illness that regularly devastates families all over the world. Alzheimer’s, perhaps because it does not offer its victims the relief of the quick death that more deadly illnesses provide, is one of the most feared diseases that we face today. Rather than a quick way out, its victims can linger for most of a decade with little idea of whom or where they are. It ultimately becomes a toss-up as to who suffers most from Alzheimer’s: the patient or the family members tasked with his care.The novel recounts the year that thirty-year-old Ruth spends in the care of her history professor father, a man who is steadily losing the fight with Alzheimer’s to maintain his self-identity. Ruth’s parents have been married for decades but close observers would be hard-pressed to define2 theirs as a close relationship. Over the course of his successful teaching career, Howard has more than once strayed from his marriage vows, a fact of which Ruth’s mother is well aware. Even though Howard is not capable of teaching classes at the university now, he can still claim a loyal circle of students and friends from his teaching days who are willing to go out of their way to make Howard’s remaining lucid days as comfortable for him as possible. Howard, though, would be the first to tell them that those days are limited.Rachel Khong tells her story in short segments (with even shorter sections within each segment) that represent individual days in the year that Ruth spends helping her mother cope with her stricken husband. The book, which runs from one Christmas to the next, uses humor and irony to tell a very sad story in a way that endears each of its main characters to the reader. It begins this way:Tonight a man found Dad’s pants in a tree that was lit with still-hanging Christmas lights. The stranger called and said, “I have some pants? Belonging to a Howard Young?”“Well, shit,” I said. I put the phone down to verify that Dad was home and had pants on. He was, and did.As it turns out, Ruth and her father are both involved in a struggle to figure out just who they are. Ruth’s personal life has taken a turn she never saw coming: her fiancé is a thing of the past, and at thirty, she still has no idea what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Her father is, of course, faced with a more literal struggle to figure out who he is and what his legacy will be. The beauty of Goodbye, Vitamin is that if they are lucky, they still have time to help each other through the process.
  • (5/5)
    Thank you librarything.com for sending me an advanced reader copy of Goodbye Vitamin, by Rachel Khong in return for my honest review.This short novel touched me as few other books have. It is a story told through diary entries of a daughter's return to the family home to care for her father suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. These everyday entries elicit the joy and sorrow of caring for an ill loved one. It felt true and real. It was heartbreaking and spectacular, tragic and heartfelt. I loved it. To me though, it was the journal entries written by the father from years past of his time raising his daughter that resonated with me and made this excellent book extraordinary. This man who made his share of mistakes had a profound love for his daughter and would have, in his own written words, "...give...all the money I've got. My entire set of teeth. That special silver dollar your grandfather gave me...Any of it, all of it, just to keep you here." I can remember feeling that way raising my children, wanting time to freeze because it simply felt so precious.I wish the ending would have been more concrete, but these illnesses rob families of stability and dependability. Additionally, the novel spanned a period of one year, and Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are typically devastatingly slow. This typical family showed their true selves when it counted. It was a messy life story told with grace. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Alzheimers, cruel and insidious. How do you tell a story of a parent who is physically healthy but cognitively no longer capable of working, doesn't recognize family members, doesn't adhere to societal norms? It is heartbreaking. Goodbye, Vitamin, a debut novel by Rachel Khong, walks this razor fine line with humor and grace to tell this story. Ruth Young arrived at her parents home at her mothers request just after Christmas, jobless, newly broken up with her fiancé. She finds her father Howard has been leaving his pants in trees, her mother Annie views everything as a potential culprit. As the reality of her fathers Alzheimers sets in, the gravity of his condition, Ms Khong's writing really shines. She does a masterful job navigating the loss, anger, tenderness, and vulnerability to make such a difficult subject 'readable'. Most of all I found so much of this relatable, and that is the books greatest strength.I received an advanced reader copy (eGalley) from Henry Holt & Company through NetGalley. This review reflects my honest and unbiased opinions.
  • (4/5)
    A very insightful story about a woman taking care of her father with Alzheimer's. It's not too sad. It's more about their relationship over the years and relationships in general.
  • (4/5)
    Pretty good representation of dementia. Not sure if the characters work as well.
  • (4/5)
    A sweet and lightweight book about family dynamics, early-onset Alzheimer's, late-onset growing up. Khong has a nice light touch with the dark humor, and this is a good example of how gentle irreverence can still wind up to deliver a satisfying emotional punch.
  • (4/5)
    I am glad that I was given the opportunity to read an advance copy of Goodbye, Vitamin. I found it an interesting read. I think the author did a great job with the complex family dynamics in this book. I appreciated the humor, particularly loving the father’s journal entries from Ruth’s childhood. Sadly, the reversal of roles was less humorous. I liked that the book was limited to one “year in the life”; I did not want to “witness” the inevitable decline in Howard’s health and how it would affect the family. I was happy that the book was able to demonstrate mostly positive events in a difficult situation.
  • (4/5)
    A thirty-year-old woman returns home after her father is asked to leave his teaching position at the university because of his advancing Alzheimer’s disease. Throughout the story, told in journal entries, Ruth reflects on her life and her somewhat strained and complicated relationship with her parents.Having been a caregiver for someone with dementia, I related to many of the situations - - some sad, some frustrating, and some comical. The author deals with this very tough subject with compassion and just the right amount of humor.
  • (4/5)
    Okay, so when my grandfather had dementia, one thing that sticks with me was the glimpses I got to see of him as a little kid. The sense of humour, the awe at things he wouldn't have looked twice at pre-brain issues, the way he just kind of accepted living in his strange, strange world.

    Goodbye, Vitamin managed to capture that perfectly. The beauty and the childlike wonder that appear between moments of violence and paranoia.

    Absolutely gorgeous. Will probably hit home if you've had a family member with dementia. Give this one a whirl.
  • (4/5)
    This short novel reveals its story in choppy segments of present moments, flashbacks, and snippets of conversation - a narrative style that can be tricky to get used to but pays off in the end. Ruth is 30 years old and has just been dumped by the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with though, in hindsight, the signs of their imminent break-up are more obvious. When her mother asks her to come for Christmas and stay a year to help care for her father who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's, Ruth is reluctant but also a bit desperate to do something to recover from losing Joel. Ruth is all-consumed with memory. She can't help but think of the time she wasted on her relationship, the poor decisions and sacrifices she made, and also the details of times with Joel that brought her joy. She can't ignore her father's slow decline or the memories that he wrote down when Ruth, as a child, did or said something amusing or insightful or so meaningful to him that he never wanted to forget it. How can she remember that her father cheated on her mother and still respect him? How can she lose respect for him now when he may not even remember her soon? The story could have been 200 pages of heartbreak and sadness but Ruth's observations about life are dry and amusing. And when she meets a man who speaks the same crazy language, a tiny light starts to flicker at the end of the tunnel. Everyone knows where her father's future is heading but author Rachel Khong manages to make the journey touching and painful but also heartwarming and buoyant.
  • (3/5)
    Goodbye, Vitamin tells a heartbreaking story of the impact of Alzheimer’s on both the individual afflicted and those who love that individual. Khong accurately depicts the effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain and how scary those effects are to everyone involved. She also includes some interesting information on how the disease was named which I enjoyed learning.I think my anticipation of how good this book would be may have ended up coloring how I felt about it in the end. From the first time I read about Goodbye, Vitamin I was dying to read it. When I finally got a copy and sat down to read it, I think the book could not meet my high expectations, and several of my recent reads made Goodbye, Vitamin not quite as appealing as it might have been otherwise. I am only including these thoughts because I might have liked the book better in other circumstances.A recent trend in literature seems to be a scattered, random method of telling a story. Goodbye, Vitamin is written this way as well as Chemistry by Weike Wang. I felt Wang managed this method better, and as a result, I enjoyed that story a bit better. I found Goodbye, Vitamin to be a bit hard to follow and was not always sure what point she was trying to make, but overall I was glad that I read it.Thanks to LibraryThing and Henry Holt and Company for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
  • (4/5)
    An entertaining, poignant, funny debut told from the perspective of Ruth whose father is suffering from Alzheimer's. Ruth's mother has all but given up as she just can't take it anymore and her brother is still away for college, absolutely no help. So, Ruth, who is suffering from an emotional break up with her fiance, is asked to leave San Francisco and come to LA to attend to her father.The things that Ruth comes up with to help her father are sometimes just laugh out loud hilarious. She is constantly reading about things that cause and can help her father's symptoms. Jellyfish everything for one day was just a little gross, however. Ha!! She even goes so far as to set up "fake" classes to help her father think that he is still teaching at the University!An enjoyable read from a debut author, Rachel Khong.Thanks to Henry Holt & Co. and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
  • (4/5)
    I read this book straight through on a plane ride, and it's a wonderful book to fall right into. It's a light and engaging read, but agree I found it poignant. Great believable characters that avoid stereotypes, which would have been easy to fall into, especially in presenting the workings of a family dealing with the heartbreaking situation of aging/dementia, as well as the struggle of a millennial to find her place in the world. A happy and affirming read despite the painful subject matters. Unsurprisingly (given the author's background as a food editor), food is a central theme in a good way.
  • (4/5)
    This was a fast read and resonated with me because we lost my mother-in-law to dementia last November. While this book is about a daughter who moves back home for a year tohelp care for her father, it wasn't depressing. It might not be for everyone, but, I enjoyed the diary like entries and the humor that we all need to keep on going during rough patches inour lives.
  • (3/5)
    I’m not quite sure how to rate this one. It was a cute story but it wasn’t one that I absolutely loved. The progression of dementia is a tough one to watch and that was captured well. I would have liked more on Theo and Ruth but that wasn’t the focus of the story. 3.5 🌟#BOTM making myself catch up my book of the month books.
  • (3/5)
    I can only review this book in light of the experience that I brought to it as a reader, which may not be fair, but such is life. "Goodbye, Vitamin" tells the story of a young woman who moves back home for a year after her father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Told in diary format, it draws out her experience from ordinary details rather than from cliché drama, which at times is nice but at many more times is just too mundane. I came to this book a year after losing my grandfather, who spent three years struggling with aphasia after a stroke--not Alzheimer's, but harrowing in its own ways--and a few months after my grandmother received a vascular dementia diagnosis--also not Alzheimer's, but still frightening in its own ways. I expected this book to be cathartic. Aside from the very last paragraph, though, it just never got sad enough for me to experience that. I felt as if the narrator remained emotionally detached, which may well be how some people realistically respond to such a situation, but which just didn't work for me. Perhaps this book will help some readers who need to work through a similar experience without tears, but I'm still looking for my good cry.
  • (3/5)
    Rachel did a good job describing the moments where Alzheimer's shows it's irrational times and then quickly reverts to normalcy. She showed much love in her caring during this roller coaster existence. A good book to again try and understand this awful disease. I loved the last few pages of paragraph remembrances...
  • (4/5)
    Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong is a 2017 Henry Holt publication. Poignant and bittersweetI wasn’t sure if I had the emotional wherewithal right now to read a novel that most assuredly would lean toward the depressing side. But, on occasion, I simply can't resist a publishing push and with less than two hundred pages I figured I could handle whatever emotional punches were thrown my way. Once I started reading the book, however, I found the tone to be lighter than I had anticipated, and soon found myself wrapped up in Ruth’s year long journey- Ruth’s mother invited her to move back home after her father begins exhibiting signs of dementia. Having just broken up with her fiancé, feeling at loose ends, Ruth accepts the invitation and moves back home for a year. Ruth’s narration is often flighty, meandering, disjointed, and disorganized, as she works through her personal heartbreak, her mother’s disappointments, and of course her father’s battle to keep his mind sharp and stay active as long as possible. While Ruth is really hurting, she is also determined, treading into uncharted territory, discovering her parents weren’t perfect, but learning to see them in a new, more mature light, as she must now be the adult in the home. She reconnects with old friends, her brother, Linus, and comes to realize despite his foibles, she is the light of her father’s life, the apple of his eye. "Sharing things is how things get started, and not sharing things is how they end.”The discovery of her father’s diary which detailed conversations he had with Ruth when she was a child, was charming, often hilarious and sweet, but also a little sad. These entries were my favorite part this book and I loved the way Ruth borrowed from this idea, which showed how life really does seem to come full circle. “I like also that having a terrible day pretty much guarantees that the next day will be much, much better.”Life and family are messy, but through all the turmoil, mistakes, and heartbreak, I think Ruth discovered a way to give back to her father some of what he gave to her, and in the process, managed to find the beginnings of her own inner peace. Ultimately, despite the quirky writing style, or maybe because of it, I ended up enjoying this book far more than I would have thought.While this may have been a short, quick read, it was a touching story, overall, and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance.
  • (2/5)
    I didn't like this book at all. It was like the diary of a stand-up comedian who was trying way too hard to be funny and failing miserably. I never got a true sense of how Ruth's father was descending into dementia and, sad to say, didn't really care. All of her friends and family were too kooky, or perhaps it was just the way she was straining to make stupid jokes out of every situation. Dumb title also.
  • (5/5)
    I loved it!
  • (3/5)
    I received this book through a GoodReads Giveaway.*A touching and humorous story of a daughter who decides to spend a year caring for her father after he receives an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Sharp and funny, this book flew right by as Ruth spends time with her erratic and sometimes lucid father while also reflecting on her own life - she's recently quit her job, ended an engagement, and is struggling over what she should do next. A good, light read and one I'd recommend for anyone with an Alzheimer's sufferer in their family.