“What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.”
This one is bleak, you guys. So bleak.
Kathy lives at Hailsham boarding school in England, in the not too distant past. She’s a normal kid, with normal hopes and dreams and fears and crushes. But as normal as her life seems to be, this is no ordinary school and I don’t mean in the awesome way that Hogwarts is no ordinary school. The lessons they are taught, teach the kids how to act in the Real World, immediately implying to them that they aren’t a part of it, how to be healthy, teaching them how to socialise and prepare them for future careers as carers. Carers for their fellow students, for when they leave their sheltered education and begin to have their organs harvested.
Kathy is fully excepting of her impending ‘completion’ as they call it, their inevitable death once their bodies can no longer survive without so many of its vital components, because it’s all she’s ever known, though a part of her does cling to the hope of the really normal life that she hears about and eventually sees for herself when she’s old enough to leave the school. She hears rumours that other students have been allowed to be defer from their donations if they could prove that they were in love, so she sets about trying to prove that she is.
You’d think that the basic plot would be bleak enough, but it isn’t really that that makes it so sad. Kathy’s constant acceptance of her fate is what gets me and her ability to cling to hope where there is none, just because she can’t believe that things could be as crappy as they really are. Starting with her ‘friends’ continual betrayal Kathy continues to bow her head and carry on to every awful thing that happens to her, and you find yourself wondering WHY!?! Why isn’t she fighting? Why doesn’t she question the things that she is told? Why doesn’t she escape? But then I realised, that when presented with something you believe to be inevitable, especially if you learn it at a young enough age that it just becomes a part of your understanding of the world, you tend NOT to challenge it, especially if nobody else is either, even when that inevitability is as horrific as Kathy’s. So it’s easier to focus on the day to day dramas, to place your pain somewhere you can see it, to distract yourself with smaller agonies. That way you can see the beauty in the small ecstasies too and convince yourself that they make it all worth it.
To say this book gave me ‘feels’ would be a terrible understatement. It pretty much ruined my week at the time that I read it, which I know doesn’t sound like a great way of convincing you to read it. But honestly, I think the best books are the ones you can’t shake, even years after you’ve read them.