Goodreads Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me GoNever Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve heard a lot of motivational speak in my time.

You see it everywhere, and thanks to our culture’s insistence that every child get a participation trophy for putting in 5 minutes on a soccer field, we have given people this crazy notion that they can be or do anything they want. Some can, I’ll give you that. Many can only dream.

Perhaps you have been interviewing for that big job, and the jackhole behind the desk has one of those infuriating posters about motivation or potential, or even worse, perseverance. There might be a picture of a guy climbing a mountain (he fell off), or a stoic bald-eagle (which is moments from tearing another bird in half for a late morning snack).

Maybe you had a coach that made you feel like you could catch that touchdown pass and become a local hero. Follow your dreams, they tell you. If you truly want it you could have it.

Now, I am not faithless. I have overcome more than I will ever share. It’s my own damn business. I worked through a lot and I am still standing. I’m extremely blessed that it all worked out.

But there are many, many good people in this world that are born into bad situations, situations beyond their control. Victims of geography, if you will. Born under the wrong flag, and you might be forced into societal rules that don’t value your civil rights. Born in the wrong part of the world, and maybe you starve or lack basic human service. Maybe you’re sipping a Frappe in a glitzy shopping mall as you read this amazing book review on your diamond-encrusted iPad. Oh, lucky you!

A big part of the mystery that unfolds in this book has to do with handling the lousy hand life can deal. Doing your best in an impossible situation. Facing the reality that there is a lot of crap that is beyond your control. And for all the motivational language that is pervasive in our culture, most people never escape their societal fate. That’s about all I can share about the plot.

At its heart this book is about friendship. At the highest level, it’s about not having control over your own life, being a part of a system, one that grinds you up for hamburger so that others may have lovely, long lives. And accepting that fact.

But within this framework, we learn, laugh, cry, and love. This book will linger with you long after you put it away on the shelf.

View all my reviews


8 thoughts on “Goodreads Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro”

  1. I’m a fan of this novel, too, and the context into which you place your remarks strikes me as integral to a sophisticated reading.

    1. Thanks, this book gave me much to think about. It should be taught in high schools, as I think it truly speaks to the powerlessness you feel, especially in your teen years.

  2. Okay…since I am one of those motivational speaker folks (albeit with several huge twists than your usual rah-rah speaker, think sword swallowing, fire-eating, acrobats, drama, unicylists, a couple of Barbie dolls, and then a speaker) you discuss in your review…you’ve got me hooked…I’ll buy the book and read it.

    Be encouraged!

    1. If there’s fire, I’m there dude! I will have to take a look at you more closely…the main thing about the book is that there are many in this world that are born into a system that doesn’t give them a choice to excel, and the human story that persistently carries on regardless. Thanks for following my blog!

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