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GOODBYE, VITAMIN by Rachel Khong

September 25, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

I’m a fan of Twitter although it wears me out sometimes. I need to take breaks from it, but it’s probably my favorite of all of the social media options. When I finished Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong, I first turned to Twitter because it was the quickest and easiest outlet for me to express myself about the book. I needed to say some things. I needed to get some things out into the universe.


Here are the contents of my tweet thread:


GOODBYE, VITAMIN is so good. Man. What a beautiful book.


Toward the end it made me cry the kind of tears that come when it’s super cold outside.


The tears just kind of appeared and I couldn’t make them go away until I was done with the book.


I guess finishing the book was like finding my way into a warm home. The tears evaporated but I can still feel where they were.


Then, a couple of days later, I wrote about the book on Instagram. I was sitting in the carpool line at my son’s school. I try to do a “Carpool Book Talk” post every weekday afternoon when I’m sitting in a carpool line because that seems like a better use of my time than mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and getting worn out. Here’s a shorter version of what I wrote on Instagram:


Carpool Book Talk: I’m still thinking about GOODBYE, VITAMIN. It’s a great read. I hesitate to say it’s an easy read because it’s really thoughtful and it encourages thoughtfulness…. It made me cry. What’s the last book that made you cry?


I’m including all of this here because this book gripped me. It is an easier read than some books I’ve read recently. But, the prose is just lovely and the structure is interesting and the way the author wraps the book up (without wrapping the story up too much because it’s terrible when authors wrap up their stories too much) is perfect.


I need to share a passage from the book. Here’s one of my favorites… In the book, the main character and her family are navigating her father’s memory loss. At one point Khong writes:


When I sat down beside you, we clinked our Cokes together; you handed me a chicharrón. We watched the kids. You mentioned that there were some things on your mind, but lately you were having trouble getting to them—accessing them. You had the feeling that all the thoughts were in a box covered in tape, and the trouble was there was too much tape, and the trouble was you didn’t have the proper tools to access them—no scissors and no knife—and it was a lot of trouble—every day it was new trouble—trying to find the end of the tape. (160)


I’ve never suffered the kind of memory loss described in this book, but I love this description. It helps me understand—if just a tiny bit—what people in that situation might experience. And that’s one reason we read books, right?


Charlotte lives in Homewood with her husband and their two children. She’s earning an MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University, and she does freelance writing and copywriting. You can find her online at www.charlottedonlon.com, on Twitter at @charlottedonlon, and on Instagram at @charlottedonlon. You can sign up for her newsletter about books and writing here.

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