Lois Lowry – Gathering Blue

Review From User :

While Gathering Blue is the second book in The Giver Quartet, it is not a sequel to The Giver. There are similarities, though. Both stories explore themes of physical and emotional pain, individual worth, communal memory, and the role of the governing body of a community -- all, amazingly through the eyes and experiences of children.

I really love the main characters, Kira, Thomas, Matt, and Jo. (I even feel fond of Matt's resilient dog, Branch.) In the midst of the violence and anxiety of their dystopian village, the children remain incredibly calm and reliable; intelligent and thoughtful; gentle, sensitive, and loving. They seem too "perfect" to be real children but nonetheless each day I looked forward to escaping to their world and hearing of their adventures.

I was deeply moved by the vivid descriptions of surroundings and events, both beautiful and horrible, apparently a trademark of author Lois Lowry. Like The Giver, Gathering Blue has strong spiritual overtones. I was astounded by the symbolism which is woven into the story, much as Kira weaves her colourful threads into the fabric of the community's sacred robe. Kira is a girl with a challenge and a gift, and throughout the story there is a sense of divine presence and purpose in her life.

Although this book has been on my virtual "to-read" shelf ever since I read The Giver a couple of years ago, I am glad that I did not rush to read it sooner. It has come to me following a long fallow time, a trudge through a spiritual wilderness, like blue sky after a storm or cool water on a hot day. Its loving tones, its rich symbolism, and its hope for the future in Kira's world have begun to revitalize me and once again, as often happens during the time of Epiphany, when the days have begun to lengthen, I feel confident that the Inner Light will also return.

Lois Lowry’s magnificent novel of the distant future, The Giver, is set in a highly technical and emotionally repressed society. This eagerly awaited companion volume, by contrast, takes place in a village with only the most rudimentary technology, where anger, greed, envy, and casual cruelty make ordinary people’s lives short and brutish.
Expand text… This society, like the one portrayed in The Giver, is controlled by merciless authorities with their own complex agendas and secrets. And at the center of both stories there is a young person who is given the responsibility of preserving the memory of the culture–and who finds the vision to transform it.

Kira, newly orphaned and lame from birth, is taken from the turmoil of the village to live in the grand Council Edifice because of her skill at embroidery. There she is given the task of restoring the historical pictures sewn on the robe worn at the annual Ruin Song Gathering, a solemn day-long performance of the story of their world’s past. Down the hall lives Thomas the Carver, a young boy who works on the intricate symbols carved on the Singer’s staff, and a tiny girl who is being trained as the next Singer. Over the three artists hovers the menace of authority, seemingly kind but suffocating to their creativity, and the dark secret at the heart of the Ruin Song.

With the help of a cheerful waif called Matt and his little dog, Kira at last finds the way to the plant that will allow her to create the missing color–blue–and, symbolically, to find the courage to shape the future by following her art wherever it may lead. With astonishing originality, Lowry has again created a vivid and unforgettable setting for this thrilling story that raises profound questions about the mystery of art, the importance of memory, and the centrality of love.

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