Goodbye, Vitamin, the story of a family facing their father's long, slow slide into dementia, is an odd little book. In many ways it's somewhat irreverent; with low-brow humor, and off-topic observations, mixed in with trivia of all sorts. Yet, it also shows a deep compassion for those struggling with dementia; the daughter, Ruth, unflaggingly tries to help her father, Howard — in so many ways. The story is told in tiny vignettes, layers upon layers of them; they settle on top of each other and reveal the patterns and textures of family and home. Howard has kept a diary of Ruth's amusing and sweet foibles growing up, and Ruth unintentionally does the same as she tries to track Howard's diminishing abilities. Soon the child becomes the parent, and the parent becomes the child; a scenario that is all too familiar today. Written with empathy and sensitivity, Goodbye, Vitamin is a heartfelt and heartbreaking book, but laced with enough laconic humor to keep away the maudlin. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Ruth has recently broken up with her fiancé and decides to spend a year at home taking care of her father, who has Alzheimer's. Goodbye Vitamin is a story about memory and loss, but also about finding your way through the unexpected things life throws at you. My laughter and tears came in equal measure. Full of humor, heart and sadness, Goodbye Vitamin is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Recommended By Jennifer H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Named a 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
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
California Book Awards Finalist
Named a PopSugar summer read
BuzzFeed, "22 Exciting New Books You Need To Read This Summer"
Named one of Coastal Living's “50 Books of Summer”
Elle, "The 24 Best Books to Read This Summer"
Bustle, "29 New Fiction Books To Read This Summer"
Vanity Fair, "What to Read Right Now"
Her life at a crossroads, a young woman goes home again in this funny and inescapably moving debut from a wonderfully original new literary voice.
Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she'd realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth's father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming her all her grief.
Told in captivating glimpses and drawn from a deep well of insight, humor, and unexpected tenderness, Goodbye, Vitamin pilots through the loss, love, and absurdity of finding one’s footing in this life.
"A quietly brilliant disquisition . . . told in prose that is so startling in its spare beauty that I found myself thinking about Khong's turns of phrase for days after I finished reading." Doree Shafrir, The New York Times Book Review
"A heartwarming book. . .Khong's endearingly quirky novel. . .is filled with whimsical observations, oddball facts. . . [and] some passages evoke the wonderful offbeat sensibility of Ali Smith. . . .Sweet? Yes. Sugarcoated? Perhaps. Saccharine or cloying? Not to me. Hello, Rachel Khong. Kudos for this delectable take on familial devotion and dementia." NPR
"Heartbreaking but also funny. . . .sparkling. . . .illuminating. . . .[Goodbye, Vitamin is] a novel modeled on real life, where humor often rubs shoulders with pathos, and Ruth’s gift as a narrator is her ability to observe and record it all." San Francisco Chronicle
“Incredibly poignant . . . Rachel Khong’s first novel sneaks up on you ― just like life . . . and heartbreak. And love.” Miranda July
"The novel Goodbye,Vitamin builds with humor, with gusto and with such deceptive lightness that the reader wonders, at its devastating end, how in the world the debut author Rachel Khong managed to pull it off so beautifully. The only possible answer is this, that Khong is a magician, and that we are lucky to fall under her spell at the beginning of her brilliant writing life." Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies
“Half stand-up comic, half a seismographer of the human heart, Khong writes with vulnerability and penetrating insight, and with a gentle humor that moves you not only to care for her characters, but also to care more fervently for the people in your life.” Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine
"Rachel Khong's Goodbye, Vitamin is one of the funniest elegiac novels I have ever read, and also one of the gutsiest. It is about so many things―Alzheimer’s, fast food, turning thirty, marriage, Southern California, the digestive habits of jelly fish, the invention of the intermittent windshield wiper―and at the same time it is about only one thing, the really important thing, the imperative, as E. M. Forster long ago urged, to connect. Rarely has gravitas been handled with such lightness of touch, or a sad story told so happily." David Leavitt, author of The Indian Clerk and The Lost Language of Cranes
“I don’t know how she did it, but Rachel Khong has breathed fresh life into the slacker comedy, the family drama, and the campus novel―in wry, swift, spiky, heartfelt prose that is a joy to read. I have enormous admiration for Goodbye, Vitamin, but more than that, I enjoyed the hell out of reading it.” Justin Taylor, author of Flings