By: Shauna Connelly
Author Lois Lowry began receiving recognition through a young audience in 1977 with her first award-winning novel entitled, “A Summer to Die.” Lowry eventually received the Newbery Medal in 1990 for her book “Number the Stars.” She was a recipient of this award again in 1994 for writing the novel most students at Salisbury are familiar with- “The Giver.” As a sequel to “The Giver,” Lowry went on to write “Gathering Blue” in 2000.
“Gathering Blue” takes place in a utopian village of cottages that are near a dark forest. In said forest, there are supposed beasts, who play a crucial role in the mysterious style of the novel. In similarity to “The Giver,” there is a higher council that monitors the community. Lowry also referenced Jonas, the main protagonist of “The Giver,” and implies that he has made it ‘elsewhere.’ “Gathering Blue” is in the utopian-themed genre of literature. The title is well-fitting to the book and is symbolic of the climax in the novel; Lowry uses syntax and diction carefully throughout the 23 chapters. She uses fitting language and formatting for the event that was taking place in the plot. For example, a character important to Kira (the protagonist) died on the first page of the novel. Because Kira thought they had passed away of simple, natural causes, the author wrote in short and simple sentences to explain their death. However, later in the novel, it becomes clear that the death was more complicated than Kira and readers had presumed.
In “Gathering Blue,” Lowry is representing the social exclusion of the disabled. Kira was born with a twisted leg, making her walk with a cane. Throughout the novel, Kira is harassed by her peers in the village- especially by the antagonist, Vendara. She is disregarded until her gift of sewing is revealed. In addition to this, Lowry represented the stereotypes of men versus women’s gender roles. It was repeated throughout the book that women are not allowed to learn how to read nor were there any women in the Council of Guardians (the higher power over the village.) Another subtle theme in “Gathering Blue” is a reflection on society, specifically that the government holds too much power over individuals. In the utopian society, everybody was expected to follow the same orders for a functional, disciplined community.
Although the novel is quite solemn, it is engaging enough to forgive the depressing undertone. This captivating novel illustrated the political struggles of the century while depicting the story of a young girl who is on a mission. “Gathering Blue” is ideal for readers interested in a utopian-themed novel with science fiction themes.
In conclusion, Lois Lowry wrote about an ideal society with nuances of controversial themes in a mature manner. I would rate this novel 4.7/5 stars; I appreciated the tone of the author, along with the imagery created throughout the novel. While the anticipation to the climax is long, the book surely leaves the audience curious to turn the page yet again.