As a child, Kathy – now thirty-one years old – lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.
And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed – even comforted – by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.
Warning: Review does contain what some people would class as a spoiler – so look away now if you dont want to know
I would never had picked up if it hadn’t been for the book group I belonged to at the time and it certainly is different. Set in a subtly different world where children are growing up in a privileged school, protected and taught by “guardians”, only to find out that they are clones – of unknown and never met “possibles” – and have been bred to donate major organs for others.
The main part of the story is based on the children growing up, looking back from adulthood, as Kathy has spent her time “caring” for some of her previous schoolmates as they donate 2, 3 or even more times before “completing”. Everything is seemingly normal, and accepted/acceptable as a “normal”, and their fate. Noone seems to consider *not* doing it and going off to do something else. Noone seems to comment on or miss they never had any parents and why they seem to have been abandoned to this fate. How are they bred and born and by whom? Many questions are left wide open, never to be answered, but the book is written in such a way that it seems accepted by the characters, and in turn accepted by the reader.