When my son was first born, a lot of my neighbors, who never really spoke to us before, began to stop my husband and I on the sidewalk to take a peek at the baby and to make small talk. One of those conversations started out about the joy one neighbor had raising her children and segued into her empty nest and subsequent divorce after 20+ years of marriage. The telling was so matter-of-fact that I didn’t see it coming and when she shuffled back into her house we were left on the sidewalk, awkward and a little bit stunned. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro had the same impact on me. I’m not quite sure what to think about it.
I scanned all of the previous CBR-III reviews for “Never Let Me Go” trying desperately not to read any spoilers. Frightened that either my love ‘o the internet and/or someone who I knew would spoil it for me, I picked up the book and gave it a whirl.
Knowing at the outset that there is some kind of secret or twist to a story makes for some paranoid reading. I figured out the gist of it fairly early on, but leading up to that discovery I spent my time reading too much into everything in an attempt to unravel the BIG SECRET. It was an out-of-body reading experience and, coming from that perspective, I’m not sure that the BIG SECRET is what the book is really all about anyway.
Since it has been thoroughly reviewed several times now, I don’t want to plod on with plot description that has already been covered. The book is about relationships, coming of age and to some degree, I imagine, the politics of English boarding schools. That is not what makes it interesting. What makes it interesting to me is the writing style. Some of the previous reviewers of this book mentioned that Ishiguro went a little overboard with the “Little did I knows” and the “Looking back nows” and I get that, but those repetitive phrases are what help to make this book so effortless and real. You hear the book more than read it. It is the conversational tone of the novel that makes the BIG SECRET so soul crushing. It’s the neighbor telling you about a defining event in her life when you are just trying to take a walk around the block.