All children should believe they are special. But the students of Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, are so special that visitors shun them, and only by rumor and the occasional fleeting remark by a teacher do they discover their unconventional origins and strange destiny. Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go
, is a masterpiece of indirection. Like the students of Hailsham, readers are "told but not told" what is going on and should be allowed to discover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on their own.
Offsetting the bizarreness of these revelations is the placid, measured voice of the narrator, Kathy H., a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who, at the close of the 1990s, is consciously ending one phase of her life and beginning another. She is in a reflective mood, and recounts not only her childhood memories, but her quest in adulthood to find out more about Hailsham and the idealistic women who ran it. Although often poignant, Kathy's matter-of-fact narration blunts the sharper emotional effects you might expect in a novel that deals with illness, self-sacrifice, and the severe restriction of personal freedoms. As in Ishiguro's best-known work, The Remains of the Day, only after closing the book do you absorb the magnitude of what his characters endure. --Regina Marler
Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth were once classmates at Hailsham, a private school in the English countryside. "You were brought into this world for a purpose," advised Miss Lucy, one of Hailsham's guardians, "and your futures, all of them, have been decided." The tightly knit trio experienced love, loss, and betrayal as they pondered their destinies... The novel is narrated by Kathy, now 31 and a "carer," who recalls how Hailsham students were "told and not told" about their precarious circumstances. (Why were their writings and paintings so important? And who was the mysterious Madame who carted their creations away?) Ishiguro's provocative subject matter and taut, potent prose have earned him multiple literary decorations, including the French government's Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and an Order of the British Empire for service to literature. (His Booker Prize-winning novel, The Remains of the Day,
was adapted into a critically acclaimed film). In this luminous offering, he nimbly navigates the landscape of emotion--the inevitable link between present and past and the fine line between compassion and cruelty, pleasure and pain. Allison BlockCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved