Klara and the Sun review
By Udeshi Seneviratne, Illustrator
Klara and the Sun is an enchanting story of a with immense love for the girl she belongs to.
Klara and the Sun examines the story of an Artificial Friend (AF) relied on by children for companionship in a dystopian near future. Klara, programmed to be empathetic and caring, quickly caught the eye of Josie, a young girl who endures a mysterious illness. We journey with Klara as she adapts to her role as companion and caregiver, as well as a friend willing to face dangerous circumstances to find a cure for her owner Josie.
Early in the book, Klara enjoys her days in a store window, gazing at the various movements of people, cars, birds, and shadows on the street. One day, Klara spots an old man calling over to an old woman on the other side of the street. The woman, stunned at first, makes her way to the man, and they both embrace each other tightly. Klara remarked to the store manager, how they both seem happy, “but it’s strange because they also seem upset.” The manager kindly suggested that perhaps they have lost each other for a while and have now found each other again. Klara may be a naïve robot, but her keen observations and understanding make her exceptionally human.
Like many AFs, Klara relies upon the sun for energy. She yearns to be outdoors, under the Sun’s touch, as she has been indoors most of her life. As the book is released after over a year of us being restricted by a global pandemic, Klara’s appreciation for the various elements of nature (brought to illustrious life by Ishiguro) on the rare occasion she gets to experience them is entirely relatable.
Ishiguro uses poetic language, taking us through Klara’s thoughts as she learns the expanse of human emotions. Klara is studious yet mature. She sees the love and sadness behind the mother’s cold façade and consoles her as she desperately wishes for her daughter’s recovery. She helps sustain a beautiful friendship between Josie and her neighbour Rick. And when she witnesses a horrifying moral dilemma, she empathizes with kindness.
Klara and the Sun is an enchanting story of a robot with immense love for the girl she belongs to. We grow closer to Klara every endearing step of her journey to learn new things about the world. Readers of fiction will certainly enjoy the abstract, occasionally amorphous, and dystopian world Kazuo Ishiguro is so skilled at creating. There is also much to adore about Klara the AF, who has unconditional loyalty and optimism for humans despite our at times innate harshness and indifference.