Set in a dystopian future, Ishiguro tells the story of a girl, Kathy, who attends an English boarding school called Hailsham. While there, she meets her two closest friends, Tommy and Ruth. She and her friends grow up together at Hailsham. But they eventually leave only to find out what the school really is. Kathy becomes what’s known as a carer, someone who looks after those who donate their organs, while Ruth and Tommy become organ donors. The story doesn’t just focus on their lives during and after Hailsham, but their childhoods, their relationships with each other, and what it means to live.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
Although the story is a sad one, Ishiguro doesn’t dwell on the fact that Ruth, Tommy, and eventually Kathy will be organ donors. It’s a depressing reveal when the reader learns that Hailsham was just a place to raise future organ donors. But the reveal helps the reader to focus on what it means to make the most of the time we’re given.
Kathy tells the story as an adult, looking back on her childhood during Hailsham, where she fell in love with Tommy. Later, when they leave the school, Ruth, and Tommy develop feelings for each other and Kathy feels like a third wheel. Which is why she decides to become a carer. She helps those who have donated organs, before and after surgery, never quite sure if it’s the last time she’ll see them.
Kathy jumps back and forth between past and present. She recounts her days at the boarding school with her friends, and travels to different hospitals in the present. What I loved most about this story are the characters. They seem so real, they lift off the page. I think the main reason they feel so real is that we get to know them as children. We watch as they grow up. They aren’t just organ donors, but people who want to truly live in the short amount of time they’ve been given.
The only part I struggled with was the writing. The author often went down rabbit holes of details. Sometimes it added to the story, sometimes it felt unnecessary. But overall, I thought it was a wonderful book, despite the depressing story. Overall, I would recommend this book to a busy mom. Especially for someone who’s looking for an introspective read. By the end, this book will leave you feeling sad, but somehow grateful for life, friends, and family.
Four out of five stars
If you enjoyed my review of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, you might also like How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing Never Let Me Go, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.