When Ruth is visiting her parents for Christmas, her mother asks her to stay for a year to help care for her father, who is starting to suffer the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's. Meanwhile, Ruth is trying to find her own footing, after her fiancée left her for another woman. Goodbye, Vitamin is narrated by Ruth in short diary-like entries that are often very funny, but by the end of the book these vignettes add up to a moving chronicle of familial love, as Ruth finds meaning and connection some unexpected places. This debut novel sneaks up on you and may have you laughing out loud and then bring you to tears on the same page!
Rachel Khong was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine from 2011 to 2016. Goodbye, Vitamin is her first novel.— From Mark B.
Easily my favorite book of 2017, Goodbye, Vitamin is full of jaunty wit that never feels twee and packs its fair share of emotional punches that startle the reader but never leave a bruise.— From Wesley
“It seems impossible that Khong could tuck so much kindness, honesty, and eclectic humor into one little book! Questioning her life choices in the midst of a major breakup, Ruth, our narrator, returns home to care for her father, an Alzheimer's patient, and gives daily dispatches full of love, rich observations, and clever, unique jokes. Stuffed with rich descriptions of food and cooking and anchored by imperfect-but-tireless familial love, this book goes down as smoothly as a cool glass of water and is as nourishing and thoughtful as it is fun at every turn.”
— Annie Harvieux (W), Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, MN
A young woman returns home to care for her failing father in this fine, funny, and inescapably touching debut, from an affecting and wonderfully original new literary voice
Incredibly poignant . . . Rachel Khong's first novel sneaks up on you just like life . . . and heartbreak. And love. Miranda July
A few days after Christmas in a small suburb outside of L.A., pairs of a man's pants hang from the trees. The pants belong to Howard Young, a prominent history professor, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Howard's wife, Annie, summons their daughter, Ruth. Freshly disengaged from her fiance and still broken up about it, feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year- old Ruth quits her job, and arrives home to find her parents situation worse than she'd realized. Her father is erratically lucid and her mother, a devoted and creative cook, sees the sources of memory loss in every pot and pan. But as Howard's condition intensifies, the comedy in Ruth's situation takes hold, gently transforming her grief. She throws herself into caretaking: cooking dementia-fighting meals (a feast of jellyfish ), researching supplements, anything to reignite her father's once-notable memory. And when the university finally lets Howard go, Ruth and one of her father's handsome former students take their efforts to help Howard one step too far.
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 a one's footing in this life.