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At the beginning of Part 3, Kathy's story has caught up to the present day again. This means another change of scenery. Instead of focusing on Hailsham or the Cottages, now Kathy tells us about her time in the recovery centers.
She's a carer and she's exceptionally fantastic at it. But not everyone can handle being a carer, and some even look forward to becoming a donor because the carer gig is no picnic.
There are two big reasons why the life of a carer is so tough: (1) Donors eventually "complete." Some of them don't even make it past their second donation. This is bound to be a downer to watch. (2) Being a carer is a lonely job. There's a lot of driving between recovery centers, and it doesn't seem like there are many days off or much time to make friends. Plus, the friends you make are the donors who will eventually complete. Again, that sounds pretty depressing.
But Kathy is cool with the solitude and likes all the driving, so she makes a good carer.
One day, about seven years after leaving the Cottages, Kathy runs into Laura. Laura was in Kathy's girl group at Hailsham and had been moved to the Cottages with Kathy, and now she's a carer, too.
You know how when you run into an old chum it's so great to catch up about all your shared friends and your favorite memories and that one thing you did at school together that was so much fun? Well that's not what this conversation is like. Not. At. All.
Instead, Kathy and Laura have mostly sad news to share with each other.
They've both heard that Ruth had a bad first donation, which sounds horrible. Laura suggests that maybe Kathy should become Ruth's carer, but Kathy's not sure that's such a good idea. Of course, we already know that Kathy soon changes her mind.
Perhaps the saddest news of all is that Hailsham has closed.
There had been rumors going around about Hailsham shutting down for awhile. But it wasn't until Kathy ran into Roger C., another Hailsham student, that the news really started to sink in.
The worst part, for Kathy, is that Hailsham was a place that tied her to all those students she grew up with. Even if she'll never see most of them again, that special place they grew up in would always bind them together, which is important when you lead such a lonely life.
But with Hailsham closing, what will happen to this bond? Kathy gives us a visual: she sees a clown holding a bunch of balloons shaped like faces (which sounds pretty creepy to us). And closing Hailsham is like cutting the strings of the balloons so that they all fly away in different directions (which sounds really sad).
This idea convinces Kathy to become Ruth's carer. She's got to try to hold onto at least one of those creepy face-shaped balloons.
When Ruth and Kathy first see one another again after all these years, it's actually quite touching. They hug and talk about the past.
But things go south pretty quickly. Their exchanges become awkward and eventually Kathy realizes that Ruth doesn't really trust her.
Kathy has just about given up on the relationship when a rumor about a stranded boat starts going around the recovery centers across the country.
It's stranded on the sand, and Ruth thinks it would be pretty awesome to check it out. Plus, as a bonus, Tommy is at the Kingsfield recovery center, which is right by where the beached boat is located.
With all this talk of visiting the boat and maybe seeing Tommy, Kathy learns how things ended between Ruth and her main squeeze. They stayed together until Ruth left to become a carer. It wasn't a dramatic break-up, or really a break-up at all. It just ended because she left.