When Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go came out in 2005, a friend of mine that works at Random House sent it to my apartment with a short note, "You need to read this."
She's given a lot of recommendations over the years and probably holds the high score for the number of ratings posted on Goodreads. So her insistence on reading this meant a lot. And I was excited--really excited as this book sounded so powerful and poetic and beautifully haunting.
Plus we're talking about Kazuo Ishiguro who won the Booker Prize for Remains of the Day.
But then something happened...moving day. The day after I received the coveted package I was moving from my respectible single pad (ie. tiny studio apartment) into a McMansion (ie. a condo that only seemed big in comparison). And all of this was happening with my newly-minted fiance. So, yeah, I was a bit preoccupied.
I did, however, pack all of my books into carefully labeled boxes and placed Never Let Me Go right on top so I could rip open the packing tape, quickly grab the book, and be reading it by the next morning commute. And then something else happened further proving the karma police have a twisted sense of humor...no moving van.
The moving van company had apparently overbooked the day we needed to move. You have to remember too, we live in the city so the only cars we'd been taking lately were cabs. And living in a 10-story building I had to jump through every administrative hoop to reserve an elevator for a brief window of time and that time was ticking.
So when I say that we bribed, blackmailed, begged, and cohersed with tales of free pizza and fresh beers our way across town you better believe it. Every friend I know in D.C. with a car was there that day leaving sore, fat, and happy. (Alright! Maybe they weren't terribly happy but we're all still on speaking terms.)
After what seemed like 67 trips from my old apartment to our new condo we were finally done. My carefully catalogued system, however, had no follow through. Boxes were strewn wherever there was available space and even after I identified my boxes with books, I still couldn't find Never Let Me Go. It had seemingly up and disappeared. Perhaps it deemed my life too drama-filled and fled the scene.
I know what I should have done. I should have marched to the bookstore and bought a new copy but instead I moved on to one of the many other books in my "to be read" pile and somewhere *gasp* (I'm sorry, I repent) I forgot about it. There, I said it!
I forgot about it until I saw the movie trailer the other day starring the amazingly talented Kiera Knightly, Carey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield (also in The Social Network). I definitely want to see this movie but first things first, I have to read this heart wrenching book. I've heard where some books touch on the surface of an issue, this book drives down to the raw emotion, that it asks us to question the worth of a life, the expectations set out for someone rather than the goals they set for themselves; and how to navigate the world when those around you believe your course has already been set. How do we live, love, let go? How do we set ourselves free from expectation and into the unknown?
I'm so excited to read it...finally! Instead of kicking myself too much for having forgotten I am trying to see the positive. Perhaps I was meant to read it now because I not only unearthed Never Let Me Go in the excavation of my bookshelves but also discovered additional books that had fallen off my radar. I hadn't lost these novels after all (*high fives*). They were simply tucked into the available crevices behind the seemingly neat row of books. As penance I'm giving them all prime real estate on my bookshelf so there's no forgetting this time around. And I'm starting with Never Let Me Go.
This book was short-listed for the Booker Prize, Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award as well as being a New York Times Notable Book and called "One of the Best Novels of the Decade" by Time magazine. And on top of that I cried just watching the movie trailer so I can't imagine what it will be like reading the book.
Like many novels, Never Let Me Go has seen a makeover or two. Here's the first edition cover:
Here's another edition cover:
And lastly, the cover based on the movie:
The plot description if you're unfamiliar is this.
Never Let Me Go is a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules--and teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.
Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them so special--and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Never Let Me Go is suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric.
Here's a glimpse of how they took that storyline and translated it to film:
So if you're belated to the Never Let Me Go party like I am or you just want to re-read this amazing book, then I welcome you to pick it up. I'll be reviewing the book and posting conversation pieces the week of November 22. I invite you to read along and post your own questions and conversation pieces here. And if you have any other suggestions of books you think I just NEED to read that have potentially fallen off my radar as well then please, from one bibliophile to another, let me know.