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Gathering Blue Paperback – January 24, 2006
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“Lowry returns to the metaphorical future world of her Newbery-winning The Giver to explore the notion of foul reality disguised as fair. . . . Readers will find plenty of material for thought and discussion here. . . . A top writer, in top form.”–Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“Lowry has once again created a fully realized world full of drama, suspense, and even humor. Readers won’t forget these memorable characters or their struggles in an inhospitable world.”–School Library Journal, Starred
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
From the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Lois Lowry is a two-time recipient of the Newbery Medal. She lives in Massachusetts.
From the Paperback edition.
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I absolutely could not put Gathering Blue down. It totally forced me to stay up way past my bedtime and then even after I was finished reading it, I still couldn’t sleep since I kept thinking about what had happened in the book. I was vaguely disturbed, but also excited to see where the next book would go (it took a lot of willpower to not immediately start reading Messenger!). It was a little weird to read since it’s the second book of the Giver Quartet and Jonas and Gabriel are not in this one. I highly recommend Gathering Blue. It is truly excellent.
Gathering Blue is not seemingly related to The Giver (or so we think); it takes place in the same universe, but a totally different type of community - almost an exact opposite of Jonas's community in The Giver. Kira's village is more primal; if you can't contribute and fend for yourself, you're useless. Kira, who suddenly finds herself parentless and alone in this hostile world, must find a way to prove herself to her community, despite being crippled. Her only friend in the world is a kind little boy, Matty, and his canine companion, Branch. Kira, with no parents to defend her place in the village, must face the judgement of the council. It is the council that decides Kira's fate - and to her surprise, they motion for her to remain in the society, and contribute the same way as her mother, through sewing and embroidery. It is through exercising her skills that Kira discovers her strange powers that she cannot explain, and uncovering dark secrets held by the village.
I picked up Gathering Blue expecting more of the same monotony and predictability. I was pleasantly surprised. In the second novel of this trilogy, Lowry explores the role of the artist on society, and her task here is much more challenging and more demanding for the reader as well. Where The Giver seems contrived, this book seems original. This book recalled for me Plato's Republic and Socrates' famous construction of a perfect and ideal society. For example, Socrates suggests that all unfit infants be "exposed", meaning left to die in the elements. That's here. He suggests that in order to establish control, a government must exercise control over art, poetry, religion and music. That's here as well. And who can forget the famous allegory of the cave? Thematically, that's here as well. I would not be surprised at all if, as she wrote Gethering Blue, Lowry had not been reading The Republic at the same time.
If this book alludes to other postmodern works, it recalls the work of Saramago, especially The Cave and Blindness. (Even the dog Branchie reminded me of Saramago's Dog of Tears.) Most fifth graders can't read these works, of course, but thematically this book is not elementary or shallow, nor is it pedantic. Lowry often gets attention for The Giver, which to me falls far short in its structure, development of theme, characterization and originality. In my opinion, Gathering Blue is her true masterpiece.
Sequel spoiler: at the last moment you learn a boy with blue eyes lives in another village nearby.