I feel kind of wrung out. I started Son yesterday afternoon and have just finished.In case you haven’t heard, Son is the sequel to The Giver, the 1993 Newbery winning book much read by everyone, a new classic for schools. Lowry wrote two books after The Giver that were related-Gathering Blue and Messenger. In at least one of them there is a brief reference to a character from The Giver, giving the reader the idea that the stories are connected and that perhaps things turned out ok after all. This final book, Son, finally truly tells the full story. And here I’m going to do a “more…” break to give you the chance to not keep reading. Because I will say that although it probably would have benefited me to have reread The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger before this, I still remembered enough of those books to make it satisfying and exciting when characters, places, and events were referred to. Also, although I knew Son was coming out and would be the final story (telling all!), I didn’t read any reviews or summaries or anything. And honestly, I thought that made it so extra great. I really had no idea how the story would be told, who would be in it, or what would happen. So if you like that kind of experience, stop reading and go read the book and then come back and visit me. If you don’t care about that and don’t mind knowing a bit about what actually happens in the book, then read on….
When The Giver ends young Jonas is riding off with a toddler in search of a life outside his rigid dystopian community. Son opens with a story that begins slightly before the opening of The Giver and tells the story that was going on at the same time-this time from the point of view of Claire. At her year 12 Assignment she is placed as birthmother. That means that she will be a Vessel, creating Products for the community. With a blindfold over her eyes she gives birth to a “product”. Unfortunately, the birth is difficult and she is left unfit to be a Vessel anymore. Reassigned to the fish hatchery Claire feels a discontent and a longing to see what she now knows was the baby boy she had. So now you realize that you are reading the story of Gabe’s birth mother! The book is set up in three parts, with section 1 taking place at the same time as The Giver. Section 2 is Claire’s story after, and section 3 brings it all together-the conclusion to Claire’s story, the ultimate conclusion to Jonas’s story, and what happened to the baby. It was all so beautifully written, expertly put together, and very emotionally fulfilling. Like I said, I feel a bit wrung out now.
I’d be so curious to jump into Lowry’s head and see how she imagines all these various communities fitting together. And what could have happened to make them be the way they are. When you are in The Giver community it’s a technologically advanced world with infinite rules and regulations. No messy feelings, animals, colors, etc. One of the best parts was seeing Claire’s reaction to her new village-she did not know what colors were and had never heard music. She was like a clean slate. And yet, in the village reading and writing were not important and people didn’t understand how she could write her name. So we learn from all the books together that there are communities that are primitive and others that are advanced. And they seem isolated and rigid, and yet there is a river with a supply boat. My curiosity is definitely piqued about the supply boat-where does it come from? the leaders of the community must communicate with them and be aware of an outside world (Claire and Jonas were not aware of an outside world.)
Final verdict: This 20 years later conclusion was worth the wait. It was exceptional and extremely satisfying.