Gathering Blue: A look at Lois Lowry’s 2nd book in the Giver series

I have to say I expected more from Lowry in this second book. I loved The Giver. And though Gathering Blue was not a bad book, and I’d recommend it to any young adult reader, I felt it lacked.

It started off strong and I thought Lowry was going to give the reader serious social commentary on the treatment of people with disabilities. There remained an undercurrent of this, but outside of the first few pages, it drifted into the background.

The ending was by far my least favorite. Don’t get me wrong. I’m the first to admit, I love sad endings, ambiguous endings, and any story where not every loose end is tied. I’m thinking here of The Chocolate War, The Giver, Nothing, and any number of young adult stories. But without giving away the ending, this one left me confused. Assuming names are based on 10 year increments, I expect Kira to be a relatively young woman, yet her grown-up decision involving her past seemed just too adult-like, even for her. She seemed relatively unmoved by the last thirty pages. As was I. It was as if Lowry had no idea how to end Gathering Blue and just went with the first idea that popped into her head.

But I’m still going to read her last two books in the series. Perhaps it’s my more recent book choices which include Morrison, Saramago, Atwood, and now Updike that has upped my threshold for great literature. This all said, Lowry is still one of my favorite young adult writers. And for such a short read, I would not pass up another read sometime in the future.

Addendum: Rereading this post I noticed how harsh I was on Lowry. Perhaps its the Monday blues. Gathering Blue reads well, reads easy, doesn’t talk down to the reader, and, frankly, expects more from her reader than the average author. I blame Lowry herself for raising the bar so high for my expectations ^_^.

Soon I hope to finish Updike’s The Coup. This is one of Updike’s least known novels, and certainly one of his most experimental. Apparently, I like experimental. Unlike most, I’m digging this novel so far.

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