Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue is the second companion book in The Giver Quartet. In this book, it is not apparent at all that it is related in any way to anyone in The Giver. But it gives a glimpse into another futuristic (yet without futuristic technology-in a similar way to The Giver) society. This one is one where people fend for themselves, girls and women are denied literacy by law, there is very little love even between parent-child relationships and definitely little love between husband/wife relationships. The naming system is interested, when you are first born, your spirit has not yet come to you, but once it does, you are given a one syllable name. When you hit puberty, your name turns into a 2 syllable name, when you are of a parenting age I believe, you get to 3 syllables and if you are very old, it's 4. It seems they just keep adding on. For instance, Tom becomes Tomas and could morph to something else like Tomasen. Ann becomes Anna, Annabell and finally Annabella. Anyone who becomes useless to society for whatever reason is left in The Field to be taken by Beasts.

Our main character Kira is introduced to us in mourning her mother's death from illness. Her father was taken by Beasts before her birth. Kira is different because she was born with a crippled leg. They wanted to take her as an infant (before her spirit came to her) and put her in the Field, but since her mother, Katrina, knew that without a husband she wouldn't have any more children, she defied law and promised that her daughter would never become a burden to society and was allowed to keep the child. Katrina is a fine weaver, one of the only members of society who knows how to dye thread and to repair the only real elaborate material the community posesses-the Singer's robe. The Singer's robe has embroidered scenes from the history of the world. It details everything from the Creation (as modern Christian's would describe it) to the Ruin (destruction of our current society, I presume) and up to the current society's time. Every year, there is a Gathering and the community assembles to listen to the Singer sing the song and remember. The only building left from after the Ruin appears to be a Christian church of some sort, with stained glass windows and the Worship Object (a cross) to which everyone bows because before the Ruin it was considered to have some sort of magical quality.

When Kira becomes orphaned, because she's learned her mother's trade-and has become an even better weaver than her mother was (a natural knack) instead of being taken to the Field she is given a new place with the leaders with the role of repairing and creating new scenes for the blank spots on the Singer's robe. There she is introduced to such novelties as running water and hot water, meals brought to her, her washing done for her. She meets Tomas the Carver who's job it is to update the Singer's Staff where it has worn down and smoothed over and to add upon some blank spots as well. He too had been orphaned, but at a much younger age. Kira takes lessons on dying from Annabella, the same woman who taught her mother. But there is no blue. "Blue be yonder" Annabella tells her and points. Kira's young friend Matt sees. One day Matt disappears and leaves-he wants to find Blue for Kira.

Little clues are dropped here and there about the more sinister side of the society. WHY are Kira and Tomas both orphans? As well as a small girl who has a magical voice and is being trained as the next Singer. Why is there always fighting and no one helping one another out? In spite of being treated better than ever in her life, Kira feels trapped. She is not allowed to make the weavings that come naturally because they tell her what to do. If she wants to work on her own things, it must be done before or after work time hours. Their creative artistry is being stripped and contained to what the community's leaders want.

In the end, Kira is very aware of her circumstances and she has an understanding of what her society means. She has an opportunity to leave, but just as The Giver chose to stay behind to help the people deal with the Memories Jonas left behind, Kira makes a conscious decision to stay. She wants to attempt to help fix the society for better before abandoning it. I can understand both sides of feeling she is crazy for staying, but admiring her for not abandoning the others who would be left to still fend for themselves. But she knows at the end that her society isn't the only community of people on the Earth and that they all don't live the same way-that they can choose to be different; to be better. And she wants to try to be a part of that positive change.

It was a good-quick read. Not very long. It went a little slow, and while I had my suspicions about things, Lowry does a pretty good job of not letting you in on things until Kira figures it out for herself. I am not a fan of figuring things out BEFORE the character does (since then I get annoyed that the character can't figure it out). I've read that the 3rd book in the quartet is going to bring characters from The Giver and Gathering Blue together, so I've already got it on hold at the library!

I read the back cover excerpt and OH MY GOSH IT JUST HIT ME. Where Jonas comes in-not by name-but I just figured it out. Bomb drop. Can't believe I didn't catch it while I was reading it, especially since I read the two so close together and knew they were supposed to connect somehow. Crazy.

No comments:

Post a Comment