“There have been times over the years when I’ve tried to leave Hailsham behind, when I’ve told myself I shouldn’t look back so much. But then there came a point when I just stopped resisting. It had to do with this particular donor I had once…He’d just come through his third donation, it hadn’t gone well, and he must have known he wasn’t going to make it. He could hardly breathe, but he looked towards me and said: ‘Hailsham. I bet that was a beautiful place.'”
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
From critically acclaimed author, Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go was published in 2005 and is 304 pages. I read the book because I saw a lot of recent buzz about it on Twitter and various book blogs, probably due to the fact that a movie based on the book is soon to be released by Fox Searchlight, and is already nominated for six British Independent Film Awards. Time magazine also endorsed Never Let Me Go as the best book of the decade.
Based on all the praise, I expected a very, very big novel. Instead, I found something quite different. It was a quiet novel. It seemed almost simple. If I wasn’t holding my breath the whole time I might have been perplexed about all the hoopla. The book revealed itself so subtly and so gradually, that when I reached the climax I was completely blown away.
Without revealing too much, Never Let Me Go is a dystopian novel about a woman reflecting on her childhood at a sheltered, highly regarded boarding school of sorts, called Hailsham, after she runs into her closest friends from that time, later in life. What the school and the societal roles the characters play is what is gradually revealed to the reader as it was made aware to the characters.
The quiet tone of the novel is like a sedative. It is told in the first person point of view of an emotionally immature woman in her early thirties. Her psychology becomes that of the reader in the telling, but when the truths are revealed in her voice, the instant separation of myself, as the reader, from what the protagonist said was quite jarring. It is a book that makes you remark out loud.
With each day that has passed since I finished the novel a new wave of Ishiguro’s genius has hit me, and I can’t wait to discuss it with others who have read it. There will be a Twitter book club chat about it on Wednesday, December 29th at 9 PM EST using the hashtag #NLMG. I’d love for you to read it and join in the discussion. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think.