Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were pupils at Hailsham - an idyllic establishment situated deep in the English countryside. The children there were tenderly sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe they were special, and that their personal welfare was crucial. But for what reason were they really there?
It is only years later that Kathy, now aged thirty-one, finally allows herself to yield to the pull of memory. What unfolds is the haunting story of how Kathy, Ruth and Tommy slowly come to face the truth about their seemingly happy childhoods - and about their futures.
Comment: When I saw this book available at my local library I decided to bring it with me because I remember reading somewhere it was a good one and since I had only read one book by the author I imagined it would be a good time to read another and compare how much I liked the style or if the other title I've read had been only an exception.
This is a disturbing story about an idyllic internal college for "special" children in England during a time we get to understand is a "possible" alternate world had things gone differently somehow.
The story is told from the perspective of Kathy, the narrator and she tells us her story as a retrospective which means everything she says has already happened. However, despite the apparent simplicity of the tale, the truth is a lot more terrifying than one could imagine after all the pieces of the puzzle are put together.
This book is labeled in many different ways but to me I'd say this is fiction and that's it.
However, another description is alternate reality/dystopian and that could fit it as well.
I don't think I can write a lot about this without spoilers but the story is always a mystery to us until the end. There are obvious clues and hints here and there but I must say, after all the promising, after a sort of expectation the climax is a bit of a let down. I can understand the author's idea but... not the best execution and style.
Kathy is the narrator and she tells us things that have happened. This writing style has it's good details but overall the talking about something we hae no control of can be very frustrating and rather pointless. This tactic does allow us to get to know many details that unless the action was now on it, it would be too difficult to get with the same sad tone.
But Kathy is a very pragmatic character and her voice is more resigned than sad. I still felt sorry for her and those she knew from school but her tale could have been a lot more dramatic (in a good way).
The school hides a secret which isn't difficult to understand but after all the promising clues and crescendo of issues, does it reach apeak we wouldn't be able to imagine any other way?
It's rather disappointing in that regard, what a great potential lost.
I can see why the author prefers to focus on the characters' personal lives and not the concept of the school itself since it obviously hides something shocking. It's supposed to make us even more horrified about what is going on. But, sincerely, all things considered, besides the idea of it, the scenes themselves are too hidden or unimportant to the plot on hand: I think the idea is too disturbing to contemplate but it would have been even harder to accept, the impact would have been perfection on out views if the characters had learned along with the reader.
The way things happen, I can't help thinking, if they knew about their fate and the school's secret so soon, why haven't they done differently? Why haven't they changed their lives somehow? How is it fate plays such a part but so avoidable considering some knowledge we get the students are intelligent? I can't understand this notion of just accepting their fate since this is still a contemporary story and they are not prisoners their whole lives.
This is one of those books that only reading can we have an opinion and there is a lot to debate but in trying to be subtle and lyric at times, I think the author let go of too much potential and that is quite a pity on what could have been outstanding. For me, it was good but not great but I'll probably will read more by the author.