Hi all you bookworms! Thanks for joining me for the discussion of October’s Book Club pick: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Remember, this review will contain SPOILERS, so if you haven’t quite finished the book yet, read with caution. I’m always super interested to hear what you have to say about the pick, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below. I’m also always open to suggestions for future club picks!
Never Let Me Go is one of those books that haunts me. Seriously. I originally read this during my trip to Europe in the summer and have not stopped thinking about it (which prompted me to choose it for the book club). The book is technically a sci-fi, but it’s written like a beautiful work of literature. It begins with the protagonist, Kathy H., talking about being a “carer” and “completing”, even though the reader doesn’t know what either of these things mean yet. She then gets wistful, speaking of her childhood friends Ruth and Tommy and we are transported in time back to 1990s England and Hailsham, the school all three characters attended. The stories Kathy H. shares don’t really seem spectacular at first: Tommy having an absolute meltdown, the students obsession with a strange lady named Madame and her gallery, the way the teachers drilled health into the students’ heads. However, slowly but surely, Ishiguro reveals the darker side to the story: all the children at Hailsham are clones. And their sole purpose in life is to grow up, donate their organs and die. They are educated and kept healthy at Hailsham until they are 16, when they move to the Cottages around England, mingle with other clones and then get called to be carers, caring for those clones donating, until they too begin donating. If you haven’t figured it out, completing refers to when they pass away. They complete their duty.
The three main characters are also involved in a perpetual love triangle, in which spiteful Ruth enters into and maintains a relationship with Tommy, mainly to prevent Kathy from doing so. Eventually, she realizes her wrongdoing and encourages the two to be together when Tommy is close to completion. It’s another tragic aspect of this book; the characters have a finite time together and they know their end is coming soon. Every wasted second can literally be counted up, because they know they likely won’t last until they are 30.
There is one moment that is so poignant in the story: when Kathy H. catches Madame watching her as she dances around her room to the song “Never Let Me Go” on her Judy Bridgewater tape. Kathy is dancing around, rocking a pillow and pretending it is a baby, when she looks over and Madame is crying. Kathy is stunned by this, but after reading the whole book, I feel the same as Madame. It is to tragic and heartbreaking, watching these characters live out their lives, knowing they are temporary.
I’ve always struggled with the idea of mortality, and Ishiguro really does a beautiful job of exploring the meaning of life. These characters were created for a single purpose. They don’t have a family and aren’t really part of the “real world”. However, they live their lives fully, in acceptance of their fate.
This story is honestly so, so beautiful and has become one of my favorite books ever. I hope you enjoyed it and can’t wait to read your thoughts!
And as for November, I hope you’re ready to dig your teeth into Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I highly suggest you watch a trailer for the upcoming movie to get yourself hyped up! I’ll see you back here at the end of November.