Kath is at the end of her career as a carer and uses this time to reflect upon her life: How she grew up at Hailsham together with her friends Tommy and Ruth, slowly discovering and coming to terms with the path chosen for her by her mere existence: she like all the other children at Hailsham is a clone, built for donating her organs and ultimately her life.
I know that the phrase “devastatingly beautiful” gets thrown about quite a bit – it’s one of those phrases book reviewers love to use. I’m sure I’ve used it myself. But there’s hardly a book that deserves it as much as this one. It’s fantastic.
I don’t know how I never read anything by Ishiguro before. Even my usually not SciFi reading sisters had read the book and thought that it was brilliant. So one would have thought that I would get around to it sooner.
Anyway, I finally read it and I can only stress again how. incredibly. fucking. good. this book is.
Kath’s dry tone and Ishiguro’s calm style go perfectly together and before you know it, you’re sucked into this world that is at the same time completely like ours – and absolutely not.
The mystery around the artwork, the rumors, the hope that just won’t go away: you want Kath, Ruth and Tommy to find out that things aren’t so bad. At the same time you know that it’s just never going to happen – and that breaks your heart over and over and over again.
And yet, the happy times they do get keep the book from becoming completely harrowing: I didn’t cry the whole way through, only at the end.
And the characters! I absolutely adored Kath, maybe also because I recognised quite a bit of myself in her. Her friendship with Ruth, and generally Ruth, is basically a monument to ambivalence and complicated friendships.
Summarising: a must-read. Really.