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Son (The Giver, #4)Son by Lois Lowry

Perhaps it’s because this hit a more personal note than the previous companions/sequels, but I felt like this was an improvement over Gathering Blue and Messenger. I loved having a different view of the community that Jonas (and Claire) came from, especially all the little nods to things that major rereaders of The Giver would remember. When Claire felt apprehensive, I had an immediate flashback to the opening lines of The Giver, for example.

The structure is interesting – first we follow Claire as she becomes Gabe’s mother, then her life after she leaves the community, and then we switch to Gabe’s point of view as their stories come together. The three parts of the story feel distinct, and without having read the earlier companion books, the whole thing might feel disjointed and random. Actually, it does feel a little disjointed (especially the middle section, which I enjoyed anyway). I’m still not sure about the mechanics of the conclusion, although it did have a great emotional resonance. Overall, though, it was a satisfying conclusion that answered a lot of questions the earlier books left open. I’d definitely recommend it, especially to serious fans of The Giver and people who’ve read the companion books already (although you probably don’t need them fresh in your mind to enjoy this one).

Source: my public library

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Anastasia KrupnikAnastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry

Rereading Anastasia is like revisiting a place that you didn’t quite remember you’d been to, but as soon as you get there everything seems familiar. Mrs. Westvessel, Washburn Cummings, the lists, her mole, her changing relationship with her grandmother, her secret bad thoughts, her poetry outfit. It was all tucked away in some obscure part of my brain, waiting to be rediscovered. I reread the book a few years ago, for the first time since middle school, probably, and listening to it on audio brought back that same feeling.

I have to confess – I almost didn’t keep going with the audio version. C.J. Critt does a great job of inhabiting the world of a ten-year-old, but she inserts these long pauses into the narrative as if waiting for a slow reader to follow along the page with her. This is downright annoying at first, especially when you can hear her inhaling, but fortunately I was stuck with it on a 40 minute drive and by the time I was a few tracks in, I was hooked and barely noticed the pauses. It’s a short book and I listened to the whole thing in one day, what with a slightly longer drive home and listening while cooking dinner.

But what’s so great about Anastasia and the way Lois Lowry tells her story? Simply that I believe Anastasia is a ten year old. She’s on the edge of figuring out the world – what does she love and hate? How does she reconcile her interior world with reality? She has a life that was enough like mine for me to relate, but different enough to feel exciting. She’s funny. She makes lists. Also, rereading as an adult, her parents seem awesome – fully fleshed-out characters that I wouldn’t mind hanging out with.

Sure, there are a few dated things in the book – the college students smoking in class, her parents finding out they’re having a boy after taking a special test, not because of an ultrasound, and a few other references, but Anastasia as a character doesn’t date at all. It doesn’t look like the rest of the series is available on audio through my library (or maybe at all), but I’m eager to reread the whole series and discover more bits I’d forgotten (I know there’s a character named Lloyd later in the series because I distinctly remember someone insisting it be pronounced “Yoyd”).

Source: my library

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April 2014
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