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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Thoughts: Son by Lois Lowry part 1

by J.R. Wagner

 Warning:  Spoiler Alert!!!! As always, I like to think of this as a collection of thoughts rather than a review.

 I recently started and finished reading Son, by Lois Lowry.  I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Giver and for some reason, I decided to skip over the second (Gathering Blue) and third book (Messenger) in the series and go right to the last.  Don't ask me why. I have books 2 and 3 sitting on my shelf waiting to be read...anyway

Son is broken into three distinct parts.  Each part could probably be their own independent book if Ms. Lowry had chosen to do so. The first part takes place in the fictitious town Lowry had created in The Giver.  The main character is Claire, who was chosen to be a Birthmother at the ceremony of twelve.  Most of the town's residents believe Birthmother's are selected out of those girls who do not excel in academics -so becoming a Birthmother is not a gift but a chastisement for not being good enough to be assigned elsewhere.

Lowry's description of the Birthmothers -they're called 'vessels' and their babies, called 'products', giving birth; production -all very impersonal and sterile sounding. This process -giving birth- one of if not THE most human of acts has been trivialized, sterilized and packaged in a way only the undoubtedly insane designers of the town could conjure.  Very much like in The Giver, you know something is wrong with the town, its rules, its assignments from chapter one.
Lois Lowry

The difference is, Claire knows something is wrong as well.  There is a problem with her 'production' (I assumed and later confirmed she needed a Cesarian)  and Claire is 'decertified' -unlike the standard Birthmother who produces three products before being reassigned, Claire will produce no more. She is immediately reassigned.

I realize I am virtually re-telling the story here so I'll wrap up this summary. Claire has a longing to see her child.  She manages to volunteer in the Nurturing Center and actually spend time with her child -but she never tells anyone the boy belongs to her. Thoughts begin to creep into her mind about taking her son and leaving the town.

If you've read The Giver (and you should-I mention it ...sorta in THIS POST if you're interested) you would realize as you read Son that Claire's baby is the very same baby Jonas' father brings home from the Nurturing Center because he is having developmental problems.  Gabe, Claire's baby, because of his developmental issues, will be 'released' (killed) -yes, it's crazy, they release many, many people in this perfect little town. Jonas, the main character in The Giver decides to take Claire's baby, Gabe and run away -that is how The Giver ends.

Frankly, I thought both Jonas and Gabe had died at the end of The Giver.  After an arduous hike through snow covered mountains the pair board a sled (that just happened to be at the top of this mountain) and glided down. The final lines of the book...

Downward, downward, faster and faster.  Suddenly he was aware with certainty and joy that below, ahead, they were waiting for him; and that they were waiting, too for the baby. For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music.  He heard people singing.
     Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.

 It sounds, to me like they glided off to heaven.  A peaceful way to go.

I bring this up because Claire's thoughts of stealing away her son coincide with the actions of Jonas rescuing Gabe before he is 'released'.  Their timelines, each from a different story, run parallel before nearly converging.  Instead, Jonas rescues Gabe and leaves the town and Claire boards a supply boat and stows away thus finding her own way out of the town at virtually the same time as Jonas and her son, Gabe.

Then comes part 2 of the book. -My favorite part!

I feel obligated to keep my posts relatively short and so I have decided to break this into two parts.  Check back often, I won't delay the second part.  I promise.

Read part 2 of my thoughts HERE (post goes live at 9:00 EST)
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