Friday, April 6, 2012

Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue

Clearly, after finishing The Giver last weekend, I immediately requested the next book in the series, Gathering Blue.  I was thrilled when I received notification mid-week that the Kindle version was available for me to check out.  I was expecting a sequel to the story of Jonas in The Giver.  However, Gathering Blue is as story all its own.
In this second book of the Giver series, Lowry presents a very different setting than the community in The Giver.  Here, we are given the story of a village that, at first, seems to be from the hunter/gatherer era, rather than a post-apocalyptic scenario.  Yet, as our heroine Kira is taken to sew the history of the world into an elaborate robe, we realize that the world as we know it has long passed.  In fact, Lowry even has a very coy reference to modern cities (Bogo tabal, timore toran, to too = Bogata, Baltimore, Toranto, too).

The story of Kira is one that is just as well written as that of Jonas.  To me, the books in this series are the quintessential young adult novels.  They are well-written and engaging, yet without the violence and sex that so often fills books of this genre today.  Lowry also provides strong moral statements for those that are paying any attention.

In Blue, Lowry again emphasizes the idea that every life has value, regardless of physical condition.  Kira has a twisted leg; remarkable, considering that her village leaves those with even a broken arm to die in the Field.  Kira perseveres and even thrives in spite of her condition.  In the words of her mother, and a strong statement from Lowry, she is told, "Take pride in your pain.  You are stronger than those who have none."

One of my favorite aspects of this novel, in comparison to The Giver, is the celebration of art.  Kira is a talented seamstress, while other children working for the village leaders are skilled woodworkers and singers, respectively.  Kira recognizes their value as artists.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the subplot of her interaction with the written word.  In her village, women are not taught to read.  Yet, Kira learns secretly as she watched another artist write things for her.  She sees "how the pen formed the shapes and the shapes told the story of a name."  I think that is a beautiful way to describe the written word.

The last thing I want to touch on is note that Lowry makes in regard to the cycle of humanity.  Kira, in working on the history-telling robe, sees that man is continually rising and falling.  "In some places on the robe there was a feeling of entire worlds ending.  Yet always there would emerge, nearby, new growth.  New people.  Ruin. Rebuilding. Ruin again.  Regrowth."  This struck me as very profound.  We think of our culture today as invincible, yet so many cultures before us have risen and collapsed, including some that are all but gone from our history books.  While we may not see the end of this empire in our lifetime, it is coming; and that is a sobering thought.

I am very much looking forward to the final book of this trilogy, and to the fourth book that is due to be released in October of this year and meant to bring all three stories together.  Both of the books I've read so far have had very ambiguous endings, so I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the stories come the fall.  Lowry is an immensely gifted story teller and, while her books may technically fall beneath my appropriate reading level, I am quite enjoying them and would recommend them to anyone who is looking for an easy, yet thought-provoking read.

Pages: 215
Date Finished: April 6, 2012


  1. Wow, I had no idea it was part of a series! A few months ago I read back through The Giver (with a little better attention than in hs ;)) and really enjoyed the story. I will have to remember this!

  2. I was hoping that maybe Gathering Blue was posted on the website. :(