After reading Hello, Sunshine it seemed apropos that the next book on my list was Goodbye, Vitamin. Another story of a 30-something-year-old woman whose engagement comes to a seemingly sudden end. Unlike Sunshine though, Ruth, the protagonist of Goodbye, Vitamin, has not lost her job, friends, and reputation. But, she does still end up going home. In this case, to help out with her dad, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Written as if we are getting a glimpse into her diary, Goodbye, Vitamin gives us a personal peek into Ruth’s day-to-day and the emotional and personal revelations that occur as she reflects on the unraveling of her relationship with her former fiancé and the hidden truths of her family dynamics. While both are distinct, they share how Ruth overlooked key signs – her fiancé’s purposive disengagement from their relationship and her father’s destructive behavior. As we are all often wont to do, we see what we want to see, we confirm the truths we know, and we ignore evidence to the contrary.
As Ruth settles into the rhythms of home life with her parents, she begins to see more clearly the person her father was and is, the fissures in her parents’ marriage, and the reasons behind her father and brother’s strained relationship. In short, Ruth sees her parents, and particularly her father, as adults. No longer is he just her dad and all of the loving memories that she holds of him, but now, he is a man – flawed, with desires and a life of his own. Throughout the second half of Goodbye, Vitamin Ruth attempts to reconcile these two faces.
This story of relationships, though primarily about Ruth’s family, also includes friends, new love interests, and co-workers. Ruth’s friends ground her, the new love interest brightens her, and an impossible co-worker nearly sinks Ruth’s father. A professor at a local college, Ruth’s father is placed on leave pending improvement in health – another way to say indefinite leave – but it is his dismissal from his beloved job that threatens further decline. Ruth and her father’s graduate students come up with a plan to keep him in the classroom. But will their elaborate deception help or hurt?
In the end, Ruth and her family find peace with their past and their present. Goodbye, Vitamin is a story about seeing people for all of who they are, including yourself.
PAIR IT WITH cruciferous vegetables, berries, and leafy greens – things that are believed to prevent Alzheimer’s.