“That all seemed such a short time ago. Now here she was, nine months later, with the blindfold strapped around her eyes. The discomfort had started some hours before, intermittently; now it was nonstop. She breathed deeply as they had instructed. It was difficult, blinded like this; her skin was hot inside the mask. She tried to relax. To breathe in and out. To ignore the discom—No, she thought. It is pain. It really is pain. Gathering her strength for the job, she groaned slightly, arched her back, and gave herself up to the darkness.
Her name was Claire. She was fourteen years old.” –Lois Lowry, Son
So begins the much anticipated final book The Giver Quartet. I actually got my copy at a used book store last week, a full week and a half before the book was even published. How did this happen? Divine book intervention? I truly believe it was so here is my review with a faux ARC.
I have to start off by saying I may be a little biased while writing. I read somewhere once that every true reader has a book that changes them for the better, that makes them a reader. That one book that they can trace it all back to and that for the first time gives them that spark of imagination that magic truly exists…and it exists within the confines of letters and words. The Giver is that book for me. Not to take away the fantastic job my parents did, but in a literary sense The Giver raised me. The first time I read it I was probably 8 years old, I read it before we even had to read it in school and I probably read it more times than I’d like to admit while growing up. If I were to psychoanalyze myself this fantastic piece of literature is where my love for all things dystopian came from. You heard it here first folks, before the dystopian world of The Hunger Games there was The Giver.
Alright, enough babbling but I had to plug the amazingness that is The Giver. SO. Son. Imagine my immense joy when I realized that Lois Lowry was going to finally wrap up and go back to The Community to where it all began. I may have suffered a small seizure upon hearing this news but I digress. Son opens up with Part I and the introduction of Claire, a Birthmother. *SPOILERS AHEAD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*
Claire gives birth, it goes badly, the end up doing a C-section and because of this she is stripped from her title of Birthmother and sent to work at the fish hatchery. But she cannot get the thought of her son out of her head. She is able to con her way into the Nurturing Center and eventually finds her son, Thirty-Six among the newchildren. She makes friends with one of the caregiver and tries to see him as much as possible. Long story short her son turns out to be none other than Gabriel *sigh* A big part of me teared up during this revelation. After Jonas steals Gabe, Claire also runs away and Part II of the story she washes up on the shore of a fishing community with no memory. She works to fit in, gets her memory back, befriends a man who is the only one to ever escape by climbing the treacherous cliff that cuts off the community from its surroundings, and trains to escape. It takes 6 years but she succeeds and the second part of our story ends with Claire meeting the ever elusive and dangerous Trademaster and makes a trade in order to find her son…the heart breaking twist? Claire must trade her youth in order to find Gabe. *tears are in full force now*
Part III begins (finally) with Gabe in Village we originally meet in Gathering Blue and get more of a glimpse of in The Messenger. I have to say here that after reading Gathering Blue for the first time I had NO IDEA why this was tied to The Giver. But give it time, Lois Lowry is genius and the most disconnected stories all tie together in a neat little package by the end. So Gabriel notices a very elderly woman in Village constantly watching him and sadly this is Claire. Gabriel wants nothing more than to find his mother and learn where he is from. Jonas feels that something is out there that is connected to Gabe, one good and one bad, re: Clair and Trademaster. Claire is declining rapidly, confesses everything to Jonas, and while on her death bed Gabriel goes out to fulfill his life purpose by defeating Trademaster who is actually the pure force of evil disguised as a man.
OK, now that that is out of the way let’s get to my thoughts. Comparing The Giver to Son is just pure happiness for me. The books are so incredibly well written and simple but ever so SMART. Lois Lowry has a way with words and prose that lets children understand and adults read into. For her, less is more. Gabriel is able to fight off evil with the simplicity of just being good. Not fighting, not using violence and using only what he has inside…love and goodness. The end may seem to some people as too easy but for me it was absolute perfection. Lowry does not need intricate symbolism and wordy interpretations, she uses what as children we learn, to love. Love your family and friends and treat the people in your life right and evil can be kept at bay.
Sacrifice. This is another message Lowry does a fantastic job of introducing and explaining in a way children can understand. The love between a parent and child is something that is pure, strong, and unbreakable. Claire’s drive to find her son by risking everything and losing just as much in the process is unquestionable. At the top of the mountain there is no choice for her, she knows she would do it all again and give anything Trademaster wanted in order to get to her son. This is the most pure form of love, parent to child that it gave me chills. Pure and simple, she will do whatever it takes to get to her child.
Gabriel is very similar. While crossing the river and fighting Trademaster he finds strength through love by thinking of his friends and most importantly Claire. There are several moments amidst the fight that Gabriel truly believes he will die and he is willing to sacrifice his life for his friends and mother. Again, pure, raw love of a child for their parent.
I am so moved by Lowry’s writing and the simplicity of her messages that I believe if everyone could follow her messages the world could be a much simpler, happier and content place filled with love. It really is all you need, isn’t it?
Should You Read This? If your'e a fan of Lois Lowry, this final book is definitely worth the previous two books confusion as to why they're in the series.