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Review: Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro
Knopf, 9780593318171, March 2021, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Love, loneliness and loyalty are front and center in this story about friendship.

The Rest of It:

Klara spends her days at the store, rotating positions with others. Some days she is in the shop window and able to watch the busy people rushing past the shop, interacting with others and living their lives. Other days, she is moved to the back of the store. On these days, her only view is that of others in the store and she can’t help but yearn for more hours in the window. Hours where she can feel the sun’s warmth and personally experience its rejuvenating effect.

Klara is an AF, an Artificial Friend. Although there are newer models with more advanced features than what she can offer, Klara is spotted by Josie, a young girl and instantly, Josie is sure that Klara is the AF for her, but the two do not meet at that moment. The mother needs more convincing and so Klara, although hopeful to find a new home, is moved to the back of the store again.

Months pass and Klara has all but given up hope, but then there she is, Josie. Klara’s heart is bursting at the sight of her but she can’t help but notice that Josie doesn’t look well. So as Klara is taken to Josie’s home, she quickly realizes that Josie is a special girl and that not only will she be Josie’s best friend, she will also be the one to notice her rapid decline in health and be the one to do something about it.

What a story. It’s a little weird and sad and somehow manages to hit on all the things we are feeling now. Disappointment, loneliness, isolation, hope. What does it mean to be a friend to someone? How can you love a person when you are in fact a machine? What happens when your purpose conflicts with your heart?

You might think that it will be difficult to feel much while reading this story about what is essentially a robot but think twice. Remember that episode of the Twilight Zone, Sing the Body Electric? Bradbury wrote the script and it later became a story with the same name. Anyway, I felt all the emotions while watching that episode and I felt the same way here. Ishiguro presents an AF who is almost too human and I loved her. I loved her gentle observations and her willingness to sacrifice herself when needed. Truthfully, I am a little sad now as I just turned the last page not long ago. This story will sit with me for a long while.

If you are wondering about the title, it’s all explained in the story and probably represents many things but I will keep my thoughts to myself so that you can consider the meaning yourself.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs
By Rachel Hawkins
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250245496, January 5, 2021, 304pp.

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

This is the perfect read for now. Quick, impossible to put down and some twists for good measure.

The Rest of It:

Jane’s life has been less than luxurious. As a product of the foster care system, she is skeptical, guarded and envious of those who have it easier. Scraping pennies to get by and forced to live with a roommate she truly cannot stand, she finds a job walking dogs in a ritzy neighborhood. Jane is not much of an animal lover but she is fascinated by the McMansions in this community and the people who live in them. The women, all rich and well-taken care of, have no idea what it’s like to not make the rent. Jane wonders what it would be like to be one of them.

Jane’s fascination with these women leads her to Eddie who is recently widowed. His wife Bea went missing in a boating accident with her best friend Blanche. Bea was eventually declared dead even though they never found her body because in order for Eddie to take over her home decor business her death had to be legally noted. Eddie lives alone in his big, beautiful house but when he sees Jane walking the neighbor’s dog there is a little spark. A spark that prompts him to get his own dog so that Jane can walk his dog too. The two find an instant connection but Jane senses something more there.

Eddie’s wife has only been gone for a short while and since many of the ladies in the neighborhood were good friends with Bea and Blanche, they can’t help but be skeptical over this new, young woman in Eddie’s life but Jane is determined to be one of them and when Eddie provides free use of his credit card, she begins to find her way in.

It all sounds very superficial but it’s superficial in the way those rich housewives shows are. Juicy and full of gossipy goodness. Jane is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but as the story unfolds, you quickly begin to realize that something much darker is at play and it’s good, very good. I picked this book up and didn’t put it down until I turned the last page.

It’s being called a modern retelling of Jane Eyre which I find interesting. I didn’t see it as that myself but it was juicy and twisty in all the right places and perfect for my mood. Very entertaining.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.