Lois Lowry, Gathering Blue

When I read The Giver as a kid, I thought it was just the worst. I had (and still have) a pretty low tolerance for unhappy endings unless they’re really well done (Heart of Darkness, King Lear, My Best Friend’s Wedding [!]), and in my twelve-year-old reasoning, the horrors of Jonas’s world weren’t properly cured by him simply leaving at the end of the novel.

When I re-read (as I so often do) The Giver in college after hearing such enthusiastic reviews from friends, I revised my opinions (as I so often do). And when I found a copy of Gathering Blue, “a companion to the Newbery Award Winner The Giver” at the Front Porch Library, I was psyched.

GB didn’t compel me the way Giver does, though. The ending was ambiguous and challenging, just as The Giver was, but here the similarities end. Kira’s world is only a “companion” to Jonas’s because they are both set in the future, but here Lowry creates a world rebuilt from destruction and forced back into village life.

One striking aspect was the dialect Lowry creates for Kira’s people, especially those in the Fen. It’s often distracting, but here are some of my favorites, spoken by Matt, the most entertaining character: ”fire twiggies” for firewood; “buggie” for bug; “crustie” for bread, etc. But it could also be highly annoying: “tyke” for child, “hubby” for husband (a pet peeve of mine), and so forth. Maybe it’s fun if you’re twelve, but the vocabulary mostly pulled me back out of the story, especially when the pacing bogged down.

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