Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 978-0-618-05581-4
Synopsis: In a futuristic society where hard work and strength are valued, Kira is considered worthless. Born with a twisted leg, she is unable to do most of the same things as her two-syllable peers. She has a talent for sewing, and often helps out in the weaving house picking up scraps. But after her mother dies, Kira’s place in the community is challenged, and a trial in front of the Council of Guardians will determine whether she stays or dies. The guardians determine that because of her natural abilities with cloth, she will sew the magnificent robe that tells of the history of the world as they know it. Though Kira is spared, she slowly begins to find out that not everything or everybody in the community is as it seems.
Why I picked it up: Another book that has been sitting in my ‘To Be Read’ pile for a while, I thought it needed some love.
Why I finished it: The book’s cover describes this novel as a companion to Lowry’s The Giver, and it appears to take place in the same general universe, though the communities of Jonas and Kira are vastly different. As in the previous work, jobs are given to citizens based on their suitability, but in Gathering Blue, there is a much more discernable difference between the roles of males and females. Kira is clearly very bright, but because of her disability, is seen as a lesser citizen because she is slow-moving and was spared at birth from the death many think she deserves. I liked that Lowry uses a disabled character to tell her story – it is a definite change from the perfection seen in The Giver and other literature of the same kind. The book is also able to show that though Kira is not like her peers physically, she possesses a certain mental and natural ability that sets her apart and makes her an important part of her community. I felt that there were some political undertones in this story as well, but I might be reading too much into it – this is what I get for having an English literature degree. The plot was rather fast-paced at the beginning, but slowed toward the end and I felt took a little too long to get to the point and had the nerve to introduce certain aspects of the world in the final chapters that could have made for a much longer novel. I spent most of the book greatly anticipating the end, but when I finally got there, I felt a little bit disappointed that there was not more to the story.
Other related materials: The Giver by Lois Lowry; Messenger by Lois Lowry; Gossamer by Lois Lowry; The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry; Number the Stars by Lois Lowry; Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card; Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; Matched by Ally Condie; Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau