Thank You: GOODBYE, VITAMIN by Rachel Khong

SYNOPSIS: Ruth Young moves back in with her parents for a year after she breaks up with her fiance. She helps care for her father, who suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and records her experiences in a journal format.

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July 30th, 2017

Dear Rachel,

I finished GOODBYE, VITAMIN on the train back to my hometown last week, where I stayed with my parents and little brother for a few days to help out around the house and celebrate my dad’s birthday. I’ve been mentally and emotionally preparing myself for this trip due to past issues I’ve had with my family, but my stay was easier to get through than I thought it would be and I think your novel helped me through it. I keep flipping the pages to July 11th’s familial shenanigans, the pain in May 21st, and the sweet nostalgia of February 19th (my birthday). I’ve found the Youngs’ mistakes and small victories comforting because they make me reflect on my own family situation as less daunting than before.

GOODBYE, VITAMIN is the first novel I’ve picked up in years with little knowledge of what was inside. Outside of my friend Isaac Fitzgerald’s Book of the Month Club recommendation, I didn’t know what the book was about, hadn’t heard of it through other friends, and didn’t read any reviews. I’m really happy I picked this novel up knowing so little–it’s about time I picked something up that didn’t have a downer ending! I couldn’t help but literally laugh in public during my subway commutes to and from work. The humor and lighthearted moments of the novel are earned yet somehow still surprising, as if Ruth were a close friend telling me a story that we know I’ll find funny but she knows how to catch me off-guard and make me laugh unexpectedly.

As an emerging writer, your novel reminded me how important structure is and how even something as deceptively simple as calendar dates can create an effective shape for a story to live in. Ruth’s observations reminded me of the poetic feel to Little Book of Days by Nona Caspers or Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement–although neither rings quite so sincere (nor were these books funny). I’ve been struggling with pace in my stories lately, and reading GOODBYE, VITAMIN made it all the more transparent to me how structure can make working with a complex story more manageable and interesting.

I gushed about your novel to my fellow One Story literary magazine volunteers, and I’m excited for your next project!

Thank you!

Monique

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