Spoiler free. And not really a review at all. I always recommend seeing and reading for yourself.
So I read Never Let Me Go and then I watched the movie. Controversial statement: I liked the movie better. At least I did at first; I grow less sure the more I think about it. The plot was the same, but the tone was so different.
The movie is beautiful and dynamic. It has so much feeling. It is incredibly sad. The book is far more understated, but somehow so much more tragic. Big feelings are sweeping and simple, but real feeling is so mixed with apathy and uncertainty and defensiveness that too often things don’t work out the way they should.
What the book does so well is show how the smallest moment can have such a major impact on a relationship. One conversation can set something in motion that will change everything. And so often you can’t even see it happening. Or you don’t believe things can be different than they always have been. So you let it happen.
“It never occurred to me that our lives, until then so closely interwoven could unravel and separate over a thing like that. But the fact was, I suppose, there were powerful tides tugging us apart by then, and it only needed something like that to finish the task. If we’d understood that back then—who knows?—maybe we’d have kept a tighter hold of one another.”
It makes me think of the friendships I had and lost in that awkward transition from Elementary School to Middle School. I had really good friends in Elementary School. Smart and kind girls who never let me down; the worst I can say about them is that they used to tease me for zoning out and staring off into space. I wasn’t that great in school and they were all in a gifted program. Their parents were happily married and mine were bitterly divorced. But they never made me feel any of those differences.
Then we got to Middle School and things slowly fell apart. My best friend went to another school. The rest of us were in different classes and we started meeting new people. I became friends with a girl who let me down and I was too slow to forgive her, because all I knew of friendship was people who never would have hurt my feelings like that. One conversation in the morning before school out where the buses parked and that friendship was over, and it weirdly changed the direction of my life, because I didn’t have my new friends and I didn’t really have my old friends either, so I turned my attention to being a good student instead.
It only makes me sad when I stop and look back. I don’t think of the connections I have with people being that fragile. But, those girls from Elementary School could have been lifelong friends and now the only one I speak to is the one who went to a different school and then moved a thousand miles away (really, the friendship that seemed least likely to survive). And I don’t really wish to reconnect with them now, but I do wonder how things might have gone if I’d fought to keep us all from drifting apart the way we did.
When it’s happening, you can’t see clearly. You don’t know it’s the end. And maybe it’s better to let some people go.