Friday, November 13, 2009

Save the girl, save the world

Lois Lowry is a much beloved YA writer and deservedly so. She has set her tales in realistic, believable, flawed worlds where a child finds the key to bringing healing or redemption often in spite of the will of adults. I first fell in love with the world of The Giver when I was in 8th grade and always wanted to learn more. Did Jonas survive? What happened to the little baby? In her delightful novel, Gathering Blue, Lowry hints that they may have found a safe haven among another group of people.

Gathering Blue is the tale of a young recently orphaned girl with a disability that causes some in the community to dismiss her worth and right to live. Her village has had very little technology since the great Ruin, and strength usually wins over all else. After her mother's death, Kira's talent for embroidery saves her life and gives her a new role in the community as the ward of the Council of Guardians. Grateful, Kira works hard to learn how to make and use dyes. While struggling to meet all the expectations of her new protectors, Kira learns an awful secret that opens her eyes to the realities of her world and changes the direction of her life irrevocably.

Lowry keeps the interest of young and adult readers alike with memorable characters, lots of action and short sentences. She skillfully foreshadows the impending discovery, creating a sense of growing uneasiness as Kira explores the limits and possibilities of her world. Kira's experiences with her world raise questions of values, responsibility and the importance of kindness.

If you loved The Giver, or any of Lois Lowry's books, I recommend you pick up Gathering Blue. Lowry is one of the best YA writers out there. I can't imagine anyone actually disliking the story, unless you only like to read Henry James, with his unending description and long sentences. (I do love Henry James, but young teenagers often find their attention drifts away.) If you want to find out more about Kira and her world, read the sequel, The Messenger which focuses on one of the most fun characters of Gathering Blue, Matt.

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