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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gathering Blue

Author: Lois Lowry
Rating: 5/5
Reason for Reading: YA reading challenge, Margaret A. Edwards Reading Challenge

It amazed me while reading this book how the author managed to pack such a big story into a short book. Gathering Blue is set in a future dog-eat-dog world where everyone must help themselves in order to survive. The weak and disabled are at best left alone to fend for themselves, but it isn't uncommon for them to be brought to the field to be taken by beasts. Kira is mourning her mother's death, but she has other things on her mind as well. Since she has a disabled leg, others in her village may resist allowing her back into the society. They burned her mother's cott so that her sickness would not spread, no one is going to help Kira rebuild her life.

But determined none the less, Kira returns only to find that her fears have come true. She is brought to the Village Counsel by one of the other women who wants to see Kira dead and to take her land. Kira's life is spared, though, because of her amazing talent with threading. She is brought to the Edifice, where she labors on restoring the Singer's Coat, a sacred village relic that illustrates the history of the village and its people. To make the repairs, she must learn the art of dyeing threads from an elderly woman in the village. As Kira grows accustomed to her life at the Edifice she begins to discover that village life is more mysterious than she imagined at first. But the Edifice is not a place where questioning is encouraged.

Gathering Blue is a companion book of sorts to Lois Lowry's Newberry-winning book The Giver. The connection is faint, though, as Jonas' world in The Giver was full of technology and empty of emotion. Kira's world is primitive and harsh. The books connect thematically, but I won't say much about that so that I don't give away spoilers. Suffice it to say that each book stands on its own but would enhance the other. Despite similarities, they both manage to have something unique to say.

I greatly admire Lowry's writing genius in this short novel. Despite the fact there are many complex themes and ideas, she weaves the plot lines together nicely. The ending ties up ends that need to be tied up and yet manages to stay open enough that the reader is left to their imagination for certain things. Kira's story is told in a straightforward, realistic way that makes this book easy to read. I think what makes this book great is that it could be equally well appreciated by a younger reader or an adult, because it can be understood on different levels. It is a captivating story, but it also asks questions about freedom and captivity, and what it means to be part of community.


Chris said...

I've had this on my TBR list forever. I loved The Giver and Lowry handles these subjects so perfectly and shows us how beautiful life really is by painting a portrait of what it could be...thanks for the great review Kim!

Rhinoa said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. I think the final one The Messenger is supposed to bring things together a little more, but I will find out when I read it later this year.

Andi said...

I really need to get around to this one sooner than later. I love The Giver, and I love using it in classes, so it only makes sense I should move on to this one!

Nymeth said...

This sounds amazing. I really need to read some more Lois Lowry.

Kim L said...

chris-If you loved The Giver, you would definitely like this one! Its hard when the tbr pile is so big that you don't even have time to add to it.

rhinoa-I have heard that The Messenger is pretty good, I actually requested it from the library now.

andi-this is definitely worth your time and to top it off, it is a quick read.

nymeth-definitely!! :-)

Debi said...

Another one I really, really, really want to read! The Giver was just such a wonderful little book, but I've yet to read anything else by Lowry. Both Gossamer and Number the Stars are in my piles to read. And I've been tempted to buy this one half a dozen times, but haven't. Bet that will change now that I've read your fabulous review :)

Trish said...

What a beautiful cover! I need to put this one and the other in the "series" on my list since I read The Giver in January. I also really liked her Number the Stars (totally unrelated, though).

Kim L said...

debi-I'm glad I got you excited about this book because it is a really good one. If Annie hasn't read it yet, I bet she would like it too.

trish-Isn't it a great cover? I found myself thinking about that too while reading the book. I think Lowry is an all-around amazing writer. I look forward to hearing what you think about this book!