Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry: The Giver, Part 2. Only not.

November 6, 2012 Children's Fiction, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Friendship, Historical Fiction 14

Hello Again Bookworms! I bet you’re all dying to know what happened to Jonas and Gabe, aren’t you? Well… Too damn bad! This book doesn’t mention them at all!

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry is the second in The Giver series. It takes place in another dystopian society, but this one is NOTHING like the one Jonas and Gabe came from.

Our heroine is a girl named Kira. She lives during the same time period as Jonas, but in a society very different from the one we met in The Giver. Kira’s society is brutal. They lack modern conveniences and live in squalor. The society is ruled by the passionate voice of the people…No pills in to keep the masses in check. Everything that is ugly about humanity is shown in a harsh light. Kira was born with a twisted leg, which requires her to walk with a cane. In this harsh society, people who have deformities or are in any way incapable of working are abandoned in a field to die. The sick aren’t cared for- they’re sent to the field. After Kira’s mother passes away, her neighbors try to confiscate her home and send her to the field as well. An orphaned girl with a disability doesn’t have a place in this society. In an attempt to prove her worth to the society’s ruling body, Kira presents herself and her weaving to the Council of Eddifice. The Council recognizes Kira’s talent for weaving and gives her new lodging within their headquarters.

Kira is given a single task. She is set to mend the beautiful cloak that the Singer wears once a year. The Singer’s sole responsibility is to sing the story of human civilization at the annual festival. Though this book doesn’t really touch on religion, the Singer’s significance seems holy in nature. It’s the glue that binds the society together. Being put in charge of the robe is an honor and quite a responsibility for Kira, but the council tries to make it worth her while, so to speak. (Really though, it’s not like she could leave. Her only other option is to try to go home and face the angry mob that wants her in the field…)

I imagine the Singer’s cloak to look a lot like the one displayed in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I like musical theater. Hush.

Life in headquarters is very different than what Kira has grown up with. She’s got electricity, running water, and plentiful meals. She is no longer subject to the cruel tribal life she is used to. She meets another resident there, a boy named Thomas. Thomas is gifted in wood carving and has been given the task of carving the story of human civilization into the singer’s staff. As Kira runs low on thread, she’s introduced to an old woman who lives in the woods. The woman becomes her mentor and teaches Kira how to dye thread to make the colors she needs to continue mending the cloak. The most difficult color to come by is blue, but unfortunately there is nothing they can grow in their gardens that will produce a blue dye. (I found it interesting that Lowry chose the color blue as the missing link, because I’ve read a few historical fictions that also focus on the difficulty of cultivating blue dye. Lapis lazuli was the best source of the color, and because it is a gemstone/mineral as opposed to a plant, it was often prohibitively expensive. Just a little nugget for your brain banks.)

It’s such a pretty color! But hard to find. Yay for chemicals so we can have blue dye! (And old ladies can have blue hair. Don’t hate on the blue hair.)

As time goes by, Kira becomes more and more suspicious of her surroundings. Kira begins to hear wailing at night. When she and Thomas discover the source, they find a very small little girl named Jo, who is little more than a toddler. She is being kept there in training to take over the duties of the Singer when the time comes. Jo has a gift for singing, but is tiny and frightened. Kira and Thomas try to ease her fears, but they’re beginning to see that their new lives are rather unusual. During the ceremony that year, as Kira admires the work she’s done on the Singer’s robe, she notices that the Singer’s ankles are chained. He is a prisoner. It occurs to her that she, Thomas, and Jo are prisoners as well.

Kira has one friend from her old life, a little boy named Matt. When Kira explains her problems with the blue thread, Matt tells Kira that he’s come across a village in the woods that HAS blue. Blue cloth everywhere. When Matt returns from his mission with more than just blue cloth for Kira to use… He returns with the father she thought was dead. As it turns out, though he was left in the field to die (after being attacked by his own people, no less) and was rescued by a group of people from this mysterious village. Kira’s father offers to take her to the village in which he lives, but Kira declines (at least temporarily) to help improve the society she lives in.

Okay. So that’s a story right? I didn’t like this book as much as I liked The Giver, but it wasn’t bad at all. I’ve got a weakness for historical fiction anyway, and the way Kira’s society lived felt very much like a bygone era as opposed to a future time. I didn’t even mind the long descriptions of thread dyeing- I like to read about how things were done once upon a time. I never actually want to have to DO things the old fashioned way, but you know. If there’s a zombie apocalypse, I figure I can make a living being an herbalist and dying thread or something. I don’t know. I just like learning things. So there. I know what you’re thinking though. WHAT IN TARNATION DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH JONAS AND GABE?!?!?!

You are just going to have to wait for book 3, now aren’t you? Yep. This is the sequel that’s not a sequel at all. Have any of you read Gathering Blue? What are your thoughts on Kira’s society?

14 Responses to “Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry: The Giver, Part 2. Only not.”

  1. Brittany

    I was actually pretty disappointed with Gathering Blue! I was hoping it would tie into The Giver more (which I JUST read Messenger and found out that that one actually does, and back into GB too) and it just really didn’t grab my attention much!

    • Words for Worms

      I can totally see what you’re saying. I’m interested in how you felt about Messenger, which is, coincidentally today’s review. Come back Brittany, I looooove you!

    • Shatina Richard

      You have to read all the books to know how it relates to Kira and Jonas. If you don’t read all the books and skip one you will be lost. But trust me you will love them all. As you read you will put yourself in the characters place and really feel what they feel.

  2. Leah

    Wow, I remembered very little of what actually happened in this story! Also, I’ve always wondered how Jonas and Kira’s societies were so different, given how geographically close together they are — I assumed they were within a few days traveling distance, anyway, but I could have made that up. It just seemed strange to me that Jonas’ civilization was so technologically advanced but that Kira’s had regressed so far backward. How did that happen?! Why is one so futur-y and the other so post-apocalyptic? Please tell me this is explained. (Or I can just read your next posts. That would work too.)

    • Words for Worms

      The geography thing- I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right! Like… How does one society have electricity and all kinds of stuff while another in fairly close proximity has nothing of the sort? There were supply boats… You’d think that sort of technology would have traveled… And, no. Never does Lowry explain the futuristic vs. the pre-industrial states of the societies. It’s a little frustrating, but I guess she was focusing more on the allegorical messages. Le sigh.

  3. Kool-Katty

    Well honestly, the truth is that the Giver is one of the best books I read. Gathering Blue just wasnt one of Lowry’s best books

  4. Ren

    I’m i the only one who notices that this book ends with her holding a thread from her fathers shirt? Idk if tht is the real end cause I borrowed my friends copy and he said pages were missing

  5. Ann anonymous

    The only thing that I could find that connected to Jonas was Matt told Kira that their was a young man in the healing community that had beautiful blue eyes. He also said he had a two syllable name, which could be Jonas with his “pale” eyes. If you read Son you will find out that Jonas and Gabriel actually do make it to a different community which could be described as a healing community. I believe, but I’m not sure, that in Son there is a blind man that sort of befriends Jonas. As far as Gathering Blue I really liked the book, but I didn’t love the ending.

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