A book that is both funny and sad - about a love one middle-aged, isolated man has for his dog. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong - #fiction, #reading, #books to read, #books

Goodbye, Vitamin

By Rachel Khong

Critical Praise:

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"
Named a Goop summer read
Bustle, "29 New Fiction Books To Read This Summer"
Vanity Fair, "What to Read Right Now"

"Told in a diary format over the year that Ruth spends at home, Goodbye, Vitamin is a quietly brilliant disquisition on family relationships and adulthood, 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." -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

"[Goodbye Vitamin is] material for another grueling exploration of loss, and yet, against all odds, Ms. Khong has produced a book that’s whimsical and funny. This is because the author, like her guiding spirit, Lorrie Moore, has a love for the ridiculous in the mundane. . .This sweet-natured novel is about Ruth’s attempts to come to terms with a past her father can no longer remember while still attending to the quirky, fleeting joys of the present. -The Wall Street Journalin
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*Discussion Questions

1. Goodbye, Vitamin is essentially a story about a father and daughter. Discuss the many layers of Ruth and Howard’s relationship.

2. As Ruth nds a new love interest she re ects on her heartbreak with Joel and the failed relationships in between. How is the cycle of breaking, hurting, and healing portrayed?

3. “A few weeks after the engagement someone asked what I was looking forward to, about marrying Joel, and I thought: the clarity. But that was kind of pulled out from under me” (page 10). Can there be clarity when things fall apart? Does Ruth find clarity?

4. Howard keeps a notebook of letters to Ruth that he’s collected since her childhood. Which notebook entry did you find most resonant?

5. Ruth says, “I think what it is, is that when I was young, my mother was her best version of herself. And here I am, now, a shitty grown-up, and messing it all up, and a disappointment” (page 131). Ruth is slowly coming to terms with how she envisioned her thirties. Discuss this dichotomy between our expectations and reality.

6. What roles do patience and forgiveness play in Annie and Howard’s marriage?

7. Annie clears the house of all food she deems harmful that might exacerbate Alzheimer’s. Ruth and Howard become mesmerized by a Ronco rotisserie. Howard develops a routine of taking a handful of pills every night, “Hello, water...Goodbye, vitamin” (page 172). One could look at their preoccupation with food as a means of maintaining a sense of normalcy. Talk about the theme of food in Goodbye, Vitamin.

8. Theo and Ruth convince Howard that he is still teaching despite being placed on administrative leave. All is going well until they are found out, causing Howard to feel humiliated and betrayed. Do you feel their dishonesty was justified? 9. Goodbye, Vitamin explores the nature of human connection: husbands, wives, daughters, sons, friends, coworkers, lost loves, new loves, and passing strangers. Of all the relationships, which ones stood out the most for you?

10. “It’s a terminal disease, all the literature keeps saying. But isn’t everything terminal? is what I say to nobody, out loud” (page 138). How do you think Goodbye, Vitamin handles mortality?

11. Before reading Goodbye, Vitamin, what did you know about Alzheimer’s disease? Did this book change your preconceptions about those living with the disease and the effects on their loved ones?

12. The stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease has a signi cant negative impact on the lives of both Alzheimer’s sufferers and their caregivers. Do you think Goodbye, Vitamin dispels some of the stigma associated with Alzheimer’s, other diseases, and even mental illness?

13. Would you describe Goodbye, Vitamin as a humorous book? How did you respond to Khong’s voice?

14. What did you like or dislike about Goodbye, Vitamin that has not already been discussed?

(Discussion Questions by Publisher)

Book Summary
Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, O, The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, San Francisco Chronicle, Esquire, Huffington Post, Nylon, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Women.com, Booklist, and The Independent

"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

"One of those rare books that is both devastating and light-hearted, heartful and joyful. . . . Don't miss it."—Buzzfeed

"Hello, Rachel Khong. Kudos for this delectable take on familial devotion and dementia."—NPR

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.
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