Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry



The kids and I just finished this novel, the second in a Lois Lowry trilogy. If you've been reading my reviews for a couple of months, you know that we accidentally read the books out of order, reading Messenger (the third installment) first, and The Giver (the first installment) second. This was not a critical error, but one I probably would advise against if you can help it.

In this installment, we are introduced to Kira. Her mother has recently died, and her father was killed by "beasts" from the woods before she was born. She lives in a filthy village where people are angry at each other, fight and curse constantly, beat their children and look out for number one. Immediately after her mother's death, a nasty village woman tries to confiscate Kira's hut and have her driven out of town because of a lame leg that she has had since birth. A trial is held to resolve the dispute, and much to Kira's surprise, is taken in by the elders of the community, given food, shelter, and a very important job. Because of her skills as a seamstress, she is to mend one of the most holy objects in town...the Singer's Robe. Once a year, a Gathering is held for the town, where the esteemed Singer sings the history of the world, which is also sewn into the robe as pictures. We learn that Earth has gone through an Armageddon-like destruction and is currently going through a re-building process.

Kira has a few friends around town, namely the dirty, scrappy, semi-feral but infectiously happy Matt (who we meet again in Messenger) and Thomas, who is also kept by the town's elders to maintain the carvings in the Singer's Staff. They discover a small child, who is being held in a locked room downstairs from Kira and Thomas, who is being groomed to be the next Singer. Kira is disturbed by the child's imprisonment, and its frequent weeping, and starts to question whether everything is as it seems. But when Matt runs away, and brings back a visitor as a "giftie" to Kira, she receives some shocking information that will change her life forever.

Of the three Lowry books in this trilogy, I probably liked this one the least. I didn't connect with the characters of Kira and Thomas, and the plot was a little slow. On the other hand, we thoroughly loved the character of Matt, and probably felt closer to him because of our awareness of his role in Messenger. The kids would giggle every time I read his lines, with his bad grammar and mischievous spirit. This book is, however, critical to the overall plot of the trilogy, and is the bridge between The Giver and Messenger. As a package, the three books are amazing...magical, disturbing, and enlightening. It provides almost a suggestion of what society could be like, if we had to start all over again. It sends a chill or two down my spine. Let's see what Emma thought...



Emma's take: I really liked this book, probably even more than The Giver. I found The Giver to be disturbing and scary in places, and Gathering Blue was not. Like my mom, I did not feel like there was much in the descriptions that made me really feel close to Thomas or Kira, but I had alot of fun with Matt. The village in Gathering Blue was more realistic than in The Giver also. I'm not sure all kids would like the trilogy, but my brother and I did.

9 comments:

Beth F said...

Super reviews Mom and Emma. And I'm so happy to see your blog colors back to normal. It makes reading so much easier.

Anyway, I plan to get to this trilogy one of these days.

Carrie K. said...

My daughter absolutely loved The Giver, and then started Gathering Blue and said she didn't like it because it didn't seem to be related to The Giver. I'm going to e-mail her your review; maybe she'll change her mind.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Beth - thanks! I guess if there was one productive thing that happened on this vacation, it was the fixing of the @#$? blog!

Carrie - You can tell your daughter that most of the important characters from The Giver and Gathering Blue all appear in Messenger. In each book, the villages are different, but all post-apocolyptic, and in various stages of re-building.

Savidge Reads said...

Excellent reviews and good to see Emma looks like she will follow in her mothers footsteps as a cracking reviewer too. Hadnt heard of this series or author so thanks Sandy!

farmlanebooks said...

I'm pleased to see Emma reviewing again!

I've just finished The Giver, so will probably read the rest of the trilogy soon. They aren't the best books in the world for adults, but think they're great for having discussions with your children.

Melody said...

Ah... I need to read more books by Lois Lowry!

Great review by Sandy & Emma! :D

Ti said...

I have The Giver sitting on my bookshelf. I bought it for my son but he refuses to read it. Ten-year-old boys can be a pain sometimes. However, I plan to read it soon. Especially after this review :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

Ti - I have a horrible time getting my son to read. What I've done is sit both of my kids down, sometimes before they do their homework, sometimes before bed, sometimes while they are eating, and I read to them. They were totally sucked into this trilogy, somewhat against their will!

Shelley said...

I just recently read The Giver and plan on reading the rest of the trilogy. It's great that you have your daughter assisting with the reviews. Its helpful to have both opinions!