The Giver keeps on giving with Gathering Blue
|photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
Now, I had always been a huge fan of The Giver but when I started my first library job in 2004, I was working with a teacher who asked me if we had the ‘sequel’ to The Giver checked in. I looked at her like she was crazy and told her that The Giver didn’t have a sequel! She quickly put me in my place and informed me that it not only had a ‘sequel’ but it was also a ‘trilogy’ and the third book was expected to be published in the upcoming months.
I was shocked, excited, and very humbled as I went with her to the shelf and pulled out Gathering Blue. Now, first let me mention that I use the words ‘sequel’ and ‘trilogy’ VERY loosely because these books are companion novels to The Giver. There is no continuation of Jonas and Gabriel’s story, for obvious reason if you’re read it, but instead, there is what could be considered another world in which the same themes are occurring and it is considered to be written in the same future time period as the world in which The Giver was set.
But astonished as I was, I patiently waited the three weeks for the book to be returned and then read it immediately. And, at 10:51 AM on September 21, 2012, have just finished reading it for the second time so that I could be refreshed and renewed on this beautiful book. Gathering Blue is the story of Kira, recently orphaned after her mother’s death, who is learning to live in a society in which she had been protected all of her life by her mother because of her disability. Kira is crippled, her leg described by Lowry as ‘twisted’, and in this society in which Kira lives, the weak or disabled are sent off into the fields at birth. Basically, if you can’t work and contribute to society, you are no good to them and are sent off to death.
Now orphaned, Kira has to find her own place in this world and after a trial to determine her fate, she is given a place to live and a new job by the Council of Guardians. She is to fix the robe worn by the Singer, who sings the history of the world each year. All is still not well in Lowry’s created world as Kira feels as if there are many secrets kept and she is cautious of who she can trust.
The themes in this book are the same and extremely prevalent. What happens when a governing authority becomes so powerful that they have the power of keeping the village under control by using fear as a motivating factor?
Now, according to all of the sources, articles, and other pieces of writing that I’ve read about Gathering Blue, this book takes place in the future from The Giver. It’s sometimes hard for me to buy into that, though, because this book has a much more primitive feel to it. The town resembles, in my imagination, an African village or a Roman village in which the government has a large building but the rest of the village lives in huts and sleeps on cots. In a sense, I find this book to be a companion in that the themes and the exploration of the power of taking away one’s humanity are discussed and dealt with in a much more outright manner than many other books, not necessarily by a timeline.
Now, there is great cause for speculation that at the end of Gathering Blue, that some say solidifies the fate of Jonas and Gabriel. Those of you who have read The Giver know that the ending is a bit ambiguous. My question today, for those of you who have read The Giver, is what do you think happened to Jonas and Gabriel? Please note that if you read the comments, you will more than likely get spoilers, so you have been warned!
Don’t forget to enter our drawing for a chance to win this quartet in audio or hardcover at the end of the post here and if you comment below and answer our question posed in the paragraph above, you will receive an extra entry! So make sure that you list your name (if your commenting name doesn’t specify) and please leave your email address!!!
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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