Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro
4/5 stars

“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”

This was my fourth or fifth attempt at reading this book, and I never before got past the first thirty pages. But I got to pick it up and finish it last Monday, because it’s summer *happy dance*

I’m glad I got to finally read it. Not only so that it’s off my list, or so that I’ve started off summer break by reading, but because it’s a beautiful book on its own. I understand now why it’s so acclaimed. I praise it too, and I now nurse a soft spot for it in my heart.

“As a child, Kathy lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter.

Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.”

(Summary from Goodreads.)

I won’t comment so much on the plot because I don’t want to give anything away. I can only say that I absolutely loved the writing (once I got past the slow beginning). The story-telling was calm and rather haunting; while it had its twists, they were delivered very subtly.

Imagine listening to a conversation you knew nothing about, while pretending you knew exactly what they were saying. And then at some moment, someone gives away a clue that gives you an “Aha!” moment deep inside, but you can’t tell anyone you only just figured it out now. It kind of has that feeling. While that tactic could get confusing now and then, I got to really appreciate it at the moment of reveal.

I also love how we follow Kathy as the heroine, but we don’t know exactly what she is thinking or feeling. We only know what we hear from her conversations with other people. It has just the right amount of mystery and narration; it’s kind of perfect.

The book deals with several themes–love, friendship, purpose, loss–but it does it so delicately, you don’t have to stop and think about it. You simply move along after a while.

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.”

If you, like me, are having trouble getting past the slow beginning, I urge you to go on. Find a day when you have nothing to do, and promise yourself you won’t put the book down until you’ve reached at least page fifty. It’s such a beautiful story, I wish I had read it sooner.

They say the movie is beautifully done too, so I will watch it soon.

  1. Gladley said:

    The only Ishiguro book I’ve ever read was The Unconsoled. It’s a masterpiece and unlike any other book I’ve ever read, but I’ve been meaning to read some of his other works for YEARS.

    • Apple said:

      That’s so interesting! I’ll make it a point to read his other works as well, including The Unconsoled. Thanks for mentioning it. And I hope you enjoy Never Let Me Go! :)

  2. Manda said:

    I LOVE Never Let Me Go! I thought it was very poignant and it stuck with me a long time after I was done reading it. I want to read more of Ishiguro’s work. I’ve heard The Remains of the Day is remarkable, too.

    • Apple said:

      I know! I can hardly pick up a new book to read because I’m still thinking about Never Let Me Go. I’m going to pick up his other books as well. I hear Ishiguro is just wonderful writer :)

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