Son by Lois Lowry
Did you ever read The Giver by Lois Lowry when you were younger? I did. It was one of my favorite books that I had to read in elementary school. I was probably around 10 the first time I read it. I say “the first time” because since then, I’ve probably read it at least 5 other times. If I really like a book, I will re-read it over and over again and The Giver was a book that really fascinated me. The community that Lowry creates is eerie, fascinating, and altogether alarming. I couldn’t get enough of it. What kind of world is one where love doesn’t exist? Or colors? Or music? Fortunately, the main character of The Giver, Jonas, decides to try and find out. Then, after reading and reading, anxiously awaiting to find out what happens to the two characters you, the reader, have become so attached to (even though one of them happens to be a 12 month old baby) the book just ends. You’re left with the ending completely open to interpretation. I think that my 10 year old self decided that it ended happily. I was a pretty optimistic child.
Following the success and acclaim of The Giver, Lowry wrote two follow-up novels: Gathering Blue and Messenger. I actually didn’t know this until just recently. Although they are set in the same futuristic time period as The Giver I didn’t read them because they weren’t direct sequels to the first novel. I really just wanted to know what happened to Jonas and Gabe. Then, just last week, I got my wish as Lowry released Son which is a direct sequel to the book I loved so much as a child. Did I need to read Gathering Blue and Messenger to understand Son? No. Would I have understood a few characters towards the end a bit more? Probably. All-in-all, I don’t think it was completely necessary to read the two in-between books, however if you have read them and think they shed some important light on aspects of Son that I clearly missed, please speak up!
So now, moving on to Son. I don’t want to say too much about the plot; you should read it and feel the frustration with a community that raises its inhabitants like robots. What works I think the most with this book is Lowry takes a type of relationship that wasn’t really analyzed in The Giver and makes it front and center in Son. The love a mother feels for her son (c’mon, I’m not giving anything away, the title is Son!) is non-existent to all the people in the community who are unaware of feelings so Lowry makes this exist for the main character and goes from there.
The only thing that I wasn’t completely sold on in this book was the aspect of fantasy that was thrown in. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it works. I also think that maybe here is where, if I had read the two in-between books, I would have been more forgiving to the fantastical elements that become prevalent at the end. I remember thinking The Giver was so alarming because I thought that maybe someday in the future that communities like this could actually exist if someone took the time to develop the science. I guess the transferring of memories is an aspect of fantasy but that didn’t really seem like “magic.” In Son there are definitely some things that just shout “magic.” Lowry does a good job tying in morals to try and downplay magic’s existence, but it is there. Like I said before I wasn’t completely sold.
Magic or no magic, though, I’m still so happy to know what happened to the characters left in the dark (and cold) at the end of The Giver. If you liked reading The Giver, be sure to check out Son.