This year I read (in some cases, reread) through The Giver trilogy. Patricia Tilton, of Children’s Books Heal, read one of my reviews and decided to take on the trilogy herself. She discovered that Ms. Lowry had just published a fourth book this year. I located it right away. Thanks for the heads up, Pat!
Son is a wonderful conclusion to the series. It begins in the same community as The Giver. In fact, the time period overlaps, giving further details to a story I already love and introducing a new character. Claire is the Birthmother of young Gabe, the Newchild featured in the original tale, and this is her story.
If you haven’t read The Giver, head over to my review and start there. Claire lives under the same repressive government, the same world made safe at a terrible cost. Claire is assigned Birthmother at her twelve year Ceremony, a profession with little honor. She’s is only fourteen when she gives birth to her first Product. It doesn’t go well. The baby is immediately sent to the Nurture Center to be raised by experts for his first year before being assigned to a Parental Unit. Claire, unable to birth more Products, is reassigned to the Fish Hatchery. But she can’t forget about her child. From there, her story merges with that of Jonas and of Gabe, also with Kira from book two and Matty from book three. We find out exactly what happens to all of them.
I enjoyed this story a great deal. The Giver is still my favorite, with its original premise and hard questions, but this one compliments it beautifully. It looks at the same questions—of the authority of government; the restructuring of society; and the sacrifice of freedom, love, and beauty for the sake of safety and efficiency—but from a more adult point of view. It’s true, Claire is only a teen in the beginning, but she’s also a mother. This book more fully explores love, specifically the bond between parent and child.
Like the others in the series, I recommend at least a middle school audience. Social themes involved can be disturbing, and this one also deals with the emotions and the mechanics of birth. But for children with some maturity, it’s a thinker and a discussion-starter. Ms. Lowry does a superb job keeping her books deep, beautiful, and appropriate. I highly recommend Son for children ages 12+.Book one: The Giver Book two: Gathering Blue Book three: Messenger