One of my very favorite books of all time is Lois Lowry’s The Giver. It’s a classic. It’s fun to teach. It makes you think. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to get it out of your head, always popping up to make crazy connections with controversial current events. I’ve had many conversations with former students about The Giver several years after I’ve taught it to them. The book is alarming to say the least, but I feel like it’s ultimately hopeful. At this point, after teaching it for 10 years to over thirty separate classes, I’d say I’ve read it 12-15 times. I just really, really love it.If you haven’t read it, you MUST.
As Lois Lowry has published companion novels to The Giver, I’ve read them eagerly. They’ve been good, but not quite as amazing as The Giver. Of course, for me, it’s hard to live up to the standard set by The Giver. In Gathering Blue, we see a different community that’s equally as strange with a female protagonist named Kira. Definitely worth reading. In The Messenger, we see yet another community that is less strange, more free, and has specific references to some of the main characters from The Giver. (I’m trying not to give away spoilers. I want you to read these if you haven’t already, and I refuse to spoil the ending of The Giver for anybody.)
Now, I thought this would be the end of The Giver books. And it was a good ending. So imagine my surprise when I discovered a fourth and final book, Son, in this weird little series was being published! I pre-ordered my copy immediately and set about waiting. Impatiently.
Now, I’ve already admitted my extreme love of the original Giver book and how hard it would be to live up to its excellence. So it’s impossible to detach myself from that and truly JUST read Son without all of my previous Giver experience.
In a nutshell, Son was not what I’d hoped. It tied up all the loose ends left dangling in the previous three books, gave another viewpoint (and we all know how I love alternate POVs) of the community from the Giver, and wrapped it all up with a pretty little ending. You’d think all of that would be GREAT. You’d think I’d be HAPPY.
The thing is, Lowry’s books have always been a little mysterious and ambiguous. She has said in interviews that she MEANT for the ending of The Giver to be hopeful, but she wanted the reader to think about the ending and come up with the characters’ futures for themselves. And so I did. A lot. Jonas and Gabe and The Giver and the Community have been moving forward with their futures in my head for over 10 years. In my head, they’re all happy and successful and have become better people after going through their conflicts. But then Lowry comes along and wraps her version of their futures up into Son, and they didn’t match with what was in my head.
So I guess what I’m saying is that if you read all four books now, you’d probably think Son is perfect. If, like me, you read The Giver ages ago and you have deep emotional connections to it, you might want to avoid it… but you probably won’t because the thought of another Giver book is pretty irresistible. So just brace yourself. If you’re interested in reading an interview with Lois Lowry about Son, you can find one here. It’s interesting, for sure, to hear her motivations for writing Son… but at the end of the day I still wish she hadn’t. Sorry if that’s harsh.
I also stumbled upon this article about a possible movie version of The Giver… I don’t know if I could handle that, either! :)
Enjoy the worlds Lois Lowry has created in these books!