All Good Things Must Come to an End
|photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
There will be two parts to this post. The first, in which I discuss the amazing book Son by Lois Lowry, the final book in The Giver quartet. And the second, in which I discuss why this book was so near and dear to my heart and I get super personal. Go refill your tea/coffee/other beverage and join us.
Son will be released by October 2, 2012, and for many Lowry fans, this has been a long awaited book. This is the story of Claire, who lived in the same community as Jonas during the events of The Giver. Claire is a few years older than Jonas and was given the assignment of birthmother. During her delivery, something goes wrong and she has a c-section and because of the complications, she is released from her assignment and sent to work at the fish hatchery. But Claire’s son? Oh Lois Lowry, you really did it this time. Claire’s son is Gabriel. And Claire wants him back.
For those of you who felt a little disconnected to Gathering Blue and Messenger, this book solves all of these issues and it is in this book where all the pieces of the puzzle between the three novels begin to fit together. Claire makes the decision to find Gabriel and tracks him down in the nurturing center, lying about just wanting to volunteer, just to spend a few precious moments with him. When Jonas leaves with Gabriel in The Giver, Claire leaves the community too, stowing away on a supply ship. Next, she wakes up after being rescued from the water near death and finds herself in a community so unlike her own that she is almost like a newborn child, learning things all over again. Her memories have also faded and she is not sure where she came from or why she left.
Eventually, she remembers her son and sets out on a personal quest to find him with the assistance of a young man in town and the woman who took her in after she came to the community. What happens next would be too much of a spoiler for me to feel comfortable revealing but the final pages of the book left me speechless, in tears, and distraught that no other series will EVER live up to this series in my eyes.
This is where the posts start getting personal. When Claire is about to have her baby, she doesn’t know really what to expect. As expected, the community bans discussion between birthmothers about delivering their children. So, as she begins her labor, something goes wrong and she is sedated, remembering only the feeling of being cut before waking up in recovery. When she wakes up, she is immediately filled with the sense of something she has never known: loss.
Almost three years ago, I went in to have my son, Evan. Expecting a normal delivery, we were shocked when 23 hours later, nothing really had happened and I started getting a really bad fever. I was faced with the decision of having to either wait just a few hours and possibly put myself and my son in ICU or have a cesarean and risk me getting a severe infection from having surgery while having such a high fever. It wasn’t that the choice was hard for me to make but it was terrifying. I went into the surgery room with the thought that if something went wrong, what if I were to die? All I could do during my c-section was stare at the letters imprinted on the surgical mask my husband wore. And count ceiling tiles.
Then, my beautiful baby boy was born. Completely healthy. 8 lbs and 7 oz of pure joy for me and my husband. But here is the point where I identify with Claire somewhat. Immediately, he was whisked away. I didn’t get to hold him. I just got to look at him. The he and my husband went away to the nursery and they finished my surgery and I was sent to recovery.
I didn’t get to see or hold my son for two hours. Those two hours were the longest hours of my entire life. All I wanted was to hold him, to see his face, to just touch him. But my recovery was taking longer than expected and my blood pressure was too high for me to be released to a room. So I waited. I spent time with my Mom and husband. Heard stories about how cute he was and how big. But for those two hours, I hurt with a pain that I cannot express in words. I was happy and overjoyed but I needed him. It felt like without him, I would not be able to take another breath.
In Son, Claire is without her son for over a decade. She hurts for him and aches for him and decides to do everything in her power to find him. That type of yearning is something that I have no idea how to describe but Lowry did. And the book resonated so well and her description of her searching for her son never comes across as too mature for teen readers, as a review on another blog I read stated. But for those of us who are mothers or who have lost someone extremely close to us, the power of this book is unbelievable.
Lois Lowry, you are an amazing author and this series is something that I will share with my children and hope that they share with their children. It is the true definition of a classic and the true definition of one of the finest pieces of literature that I have ever read. Nothing will come close to this and. reader, if you haven’t read this series, please take the time to do so. You will not regret it.
Buy Son on Tuesday and support this series. Check it out from your library. Talk it up with your teens and with parents of the teens you serve. Don’t let The Giver quartet be a series that is lost with time because it’s power is world changing.
Please remember that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Books on Tape/Listening Library have graciously sponsored this week of posts and they will each be giving a set of the books in hardcover and audio CD, respectively. Make sure you enter on our first post which can be found here and for a final round of additional entries, comment below on a book that has changed your life and share with our readership the power of the written word.
Thanks for joining us this week,
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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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