Most of you are well acquainted with my pure and beautiful love of The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was the book that showed me how reading could change your life. I sat in a 7th grade classroom as my teacher's assistant read to us Jonas' tale of discovering the reality of his world... and nothing would ever be the same.
Therefore, you can imagine how hesitant I was to read the rest of Lowry's The Giver quartet. The Giver, to me, was a perfect memory and I didn't want any sort of poorly written sequel to ruin a moment in my life that meant so much. Shortly before the release of the film version of The Giver, a friend and I attended a book discussion at a local bookstore. Inevitably, the rest of the series came up and the insights the other attendees had into Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son made me realize that The Giver would not be ruined for me.
What I misunderstood, and what I believe a lot of readers believe, is that Gathering Blue and the subsequent books are simply a sequel to The Giver. That Lowry picks up where we left off, with Jonas and Gabriel on the sled, seeing the warm lights from a house nearby. But that is not the case. The rest of the quartet tells different tales of characters living in the same time as Jonas, but in different communities.
The most interesting thing to me in regards to Gathering Blue as compared to The Giver was the difference in the way the community saw individuality. In The Giver, its members are asked to give up anything that makes them unique and individuals strive to stifle anything that might make them different from their neighbors. In Gathering Blue, unique people are revered and nurtured. However, as is true of all of the world's Lowry has created in this series, leadership takes their love of individuality and mutates it into someting grotesque. While they respect talent, they also cage it so it can only be used for their purposes. And as you can imagine as with most dystopias, their purposes are rarely altruistic.
Lois Lowry won her first Newbery Medal in 1994 for The Giver. Six years later, she ushered readers back into its mysterious but plausible future world in Gathering Blue to tell the story of Kira, orphaned, physically flawed, and left with an uncertain future. This second book in the Giver Quartet has been stunningly redesigned in paperback.
As she did in The Giver and later Messenger, in Gathering Blue Lois Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, how people could evolve, and what could be considered valuable.