Book Review: Goodbye Vitamin
Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel
by: Rachel Khong
Finished on: August 3, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt
Goodbye, Vitamin tells the story of thirty-year-old Ruth, who recently split from her fiance, who heads home to live with her parents for a year after her father is diagnosed with dementia. The novel is told in diary format from Ruth's point of view over the course of one year. Interspersed are journal entries from her father's journal from when Ruth was a small child. Goodbye, Vitamin tells the story of a variety of characters all coping with the turns of life.
This book came highly recommended to me, and so I had high expectations. Overall, I was disappointed with this read. It's not that it isn't well written -- it is -- it is quirky and insightful. I just had a hard time meshing with the characters (all of them!) and overall, found this to be a depressing read. To me, the characters were weak. I love that Ruth had the freedom and commitment to quit her job and move home to help her parents out for a year, but it felt like she was running away from her broken relationship and her life. In fact, all of the characters seemed to be in a funk and dealt with break-ups, infidelity, poor health, etc. While I think we were supposed to leave on a hopeful not, I simply felt depressed by the majority of the book. That being said, I know others who loved this, so it may just have not meshed well with me at the time that I read it. I love a strong female lead or creepy psychological thrillers, so maybe this book just wasn't "me" and that's fine.
Because this book was in journal format, I decided to share a few quote below that resonated with me and share a bit more (journal style like in the book) about myself.
Death is my biggest fear. I was raised Catholic and spent a large portion of my earlier life naive to anything beyond heaven as an option for the afterlife. As I have grown older, my understanding and thoughts have changed dramatically. I frequently think (and obsess) about death and how much it scares me. But maybe being scared is good...being scared about death helps me realize that the fact that I'm alive is amazing. It makes me want to be more spontaneous and make each moment important.
"I'd eat a few Falafel Planet falafels and head to Kezar Stadium, and attempt to run myself into a euphoric state. It never worked, but I never gave up - I'd make like a hamster and run. If I was luck I could run myself into a stupor, which was the next best thing."
Running is my favorite form of exercise. I love turning on peppy music and losing myself on city streets or Arizona trails. I've never regretted a run, probably because I always feel more calm and peaceful after I'm finished. Running also gives me a time to collect my thoughts and hopefully counteracts my love of pizza a bit.
"I don't know how I got to be thirty. I don't feel thirty, the way I felt so definitely none, and thirteen, and twenty-one."
This year, I turned thirty-three, but I still find myself having to think very hard and calculate my age anytime someone asks. In my head, I am forever living in my mid-twenties. Where did the time go? How am I already this old? This may related to my fear of death, but I hate the idea of getting older and thinking about the limited time I have left. There are so many places I want to travel and things I want to experience.
"She was the first person I ever met who cared so deeply about her weight she wouldn't eat anything. I met her long before it had occurred to me that somebody might choose to eat nothing."
This quote hit hard for me. I think most women can remember their first friend who was obsessed with weight and dieting. I remember mine and I remember trying to emulate her. Apparently, I thought it was cool to complain about my weight even though I was a naturally thin child. I also started calling myself fat and trying to restrict my diet and being so concerned about every little thing. I never had a problem, but I think back on my younger self with embarrassment. I think we have a long way to go as a society to promote healthy body images and healthy eating. I still have to remind myself that perfection is not normal or expected.
"I like also that having a terrible day pretty much guarantees that the next day will be much, much better."
If today is a bad day for you, remember that it gets better. We have ups and downs. I try to work to give myself more ups, though.
Overall, I rate this 3/5 stars. While there were some awesome quotes, this book just left me feeling depressed. While it wasn't for me, that doesn't mean you won't totally love it!