Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

Updated: Jul 7, 2021


Ruth is 30, and her life is falling apart: she and her fiancé are moving house, but he's moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns that her father, a history professor beloved by his students, has Alzheimer's. At Christmas her mother begs her to stay on and help. For a year.

Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father's career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits - in the absence of a cure - of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.


I read a book about Alzheimer's and I didn't cry ...

… Is what I thought I was going to say as I flipped the pages of Goodbye, Vitamin. Until I got to that last scene. Then my chest exploded and all the water in my body came rushing out through my eyes.

Rachel Khong wrote a really beautiful book about family and remembering.

The gist: Ruth's fiancé has decided to be someone else's boyfriend, so, for the first time in six years she goes home for Christmas. Once there, she's roped into staying for a year to help her mum deal with her father's fading memories.

What happens next is a lighter take on Alzheimer's that focuses on the warmth of family, the beauty of memories shared, and a daughter's ode to her father.

I had seen words like 'darkly comic,' which is right up my alley because my gallows humour is 💯 so I was looking forward to this read. Funny enough, I didn't get the comic vibe, but I did get the warm fuzzies, which is infinitely better.

Verdict

An engaging read that will make you grab your parent for a good, long hug.

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