'Son' nicely wraps up 'The Giver' quartet

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

It's taken nearly 20 years, but with the release of "Son" (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $17.99) by Lois Lowry in October, the questions about Jonas and his role as the new "Giver" are answered.

Lowry, who is now 75, said in a recent interview with the Deseret News that she never intended "The Giver" (written in 1993) to be part of a series.

It was to be a single book, but the ambiguous ending left readers wondering about the young boy — Jonas — who slowly figured out his pivotal role in a strictly controlled society and left to find a better world.

Lowry then wrote "Gathering Blue" about Kira and a lively boy named Matt and "Messenger," which refers to Jonas arriving on a little red sled to Matt's Village.

In "Son," she wraps up the loose threads and finishes what is now a quartet of books aimed at young, inquisitive readers, books that are required reading in some schools and challenged in others.

"I've never figured out exactly why (they are challenged)," Lowry said. "I think maybe the books are unsettling to some parents and they react to that."

"The Giver" books provide excellent discussion fodder, she said. "The Giver" won the prestigious Newbery Award in 1994.

Many middle schools require it as part of their reading curriculum. Some religious schools include it in their reading lists, and it's often given as a Bar Mitzvah gift, Lowry said. At the same time, it's been controversial in some areas and to some people.

Lowry said she wrote "Gathering Blue" before the 9/11 attack on New York, but it coincidentally describes a kind of 9/11 event, an event that convinces people they would be safer in a world where everyone is protected because everything is controlled and emotions are curtailed.

"It's a cautionary tale," said the author. "With a good teacher, the story raises lots of discussion questions.

"What it does do is incite people to think. It's kind of exciting to have people talking, even arguing, about a book," Lowry said.

Lowry said she's pretty sure this is the final book in the series because she's 75 and it took her two years to write "Son."

"Son" weaves the three books together and neatly fills in the missing pieces without losing any of the magic. The characters are solid and real. The events are totally logical as Claire, chosen and later discarded as a birthmother in her world, sets out on a dangerous and costly mission to find her baby.

The story pulls in several religious concepts involving an evil Trademaster who tempts people by offering to fulfill their greatest desire for what at first appears to be an affordable price.

It's readable and satisfying and speaks to the talent of Lowry.

In her career, she's written more than 30 books for children, including the Anastasia and Gooney Bird series.

Her visit to Utah will be her fourth to the Beehive State.

If you go ...

What: Lois Lowry book signing

When: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 6 p.m.

Where: Provo City Library at Academy Square ballroom, 550 N. University Ave., Provo

Web: www.provolibrary.com

Note: Free tickets to the event are required and should be obtained from the library; a standby line will be available for those without tickets.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@desnews.com

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