Chelsea's Reviews > When We Were Orphans

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
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Oct 13, 2011

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The book focuses on Christopher Banks, a detective whose parents were abducted at a young age for fighting against the import of Indian opium in to China. Christopher grows up and, after making a name for himself as a detective, decides to side his most important case ever – what precisely happened to his parents when they were abducted years ago. The case sends him back in to the streets of war-torn Shanghai and forces him to choose between the woman he loves, the life he has created for himself in England, and the world he has always known. He gets answers, but not necessarily the answers he (or the reader) expects.

My biggest problem with this book was the ending. All of the strings are tied up, so its not one of those novels where the ends are left loose and the reader is left with questions. To the contrary, all questions are answered – I just didn’t like the answers provided! This is merely a matter of taste, but the book had an ending that just left me feeling a little – gilted. I wanted there to be a bit more, and the explanations given to some of the issues aren’t as satisfactory as I could have desired. Specifically, the ending of the relationship between Christopher and his childhood friend, a Japanese boy named Akira, left much to be desired in terms of satisfaction. Other than my issues with the quality of the ending, the book really is a beautiful trip back in time to the era when China was ruled by Chiang Kai Shek and when opium ruled the streets. I’m not the biggest fan of detective or mystery books, but I thought that Ishiguro did a wonderful job of blending the detective-narrative along with the other issues in Christopher’s life – his love affair with a climbing socialite, his paternal instincts towards the girl he adopts, and the internal struggle he will always face over why his parents were taken.
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