Friday, 2 June 2017

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong @rachelkhong @scribnerUK @jessbarratt88


Ruth is thirty 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.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong is published in hardback by Scribner on 1 June 2017 and is the author's first novel.

Sometimes it is the smallest, slimmest novels that have the most impact. Nestled within the less than two hundred pages that make up Goodbye, Vitamin is a story that is so beautifully crafted, the characters within creep into the heart and tighten their hold with every page.

Ruth has agreed to move in with her aging parents for a year. Her mother is struggling to deal with her father's decline into Alzheimer's and for Ruth this is also a chance to escape the reality of the steady deterioration of her own life as her fiance prepares to leave their house to live with another woman.

Ruth has always adored her father, and the feelings are mutual. Her father has a notebook that he's written in for many years, he gathered up his thoughts about Ruth as she was growing up. He noted down the seemingly mundane; the funny things she said and did and told the pages just how much he loved his child. Ruth really didn't know the other side of her father. Her mother and brother know a different man. A man who drank, who was disloyal, who was difficult to live with, but to Ruth he was her adored father.

Ruth and her mother become obsessed with reading everything available that may help them to care for her father. Food, aluminium, scientific tests - all of them are read, digested and tried out.

There are bittersweet moments in this story that will tug at the heartstrings, but for me, it was the little snippets within that notebook that told of earlier lives that really made this novel. It was a clever way of informing the reader about the family in the past, and how they had moved on.

Rachel Khong is a skilled and imaginative writer. The writing is gentle and caring, and at times, so very very funny. It is intimate, tender and frank.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Rachel Khong studied at Yale and the University of Florida. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, The Believer, Pitchfork, Village Voice and Lucky Peach. In 2013, she was named one of Refinery29’s 30 under 30. 

Goodbye, Vitamin is her first novel.

Find out more at

Follow her on Twitter @rachelkhong

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