A few weeks ago my son announced that The Best Book He EVER Had to Read for School was THE GIVER by Lois Lowry.
I nodded sagely, having enjoyed that book myself, and I located the book on the shelf, moved it to the tower on my nightstand and thought, I need to read this one again, not just as a reader, but as a writer who wants to write books that matter.
A few chapters in, I received an email from a middle school teacher who was requesting a school visit AND announcing that she had paired LEAVING GEE'S BEND with THE GIVER, because they are so much alike.
I was like, wow, really?
And I made it a priority to finish the book so I could see what she was talking about.
Here's the thing: all that Jonas gains through the memories he receives from the Giver, all the ways his world changes from this safe, mundane, sterile existence leads him to a world like Ludelphia's: heartache, pain, striving, love, family, stories, COLOR. When at the end, Jonas and Gabe sled down that hill and arrive... they could be arriving at Ludelphia's cabin.
So that set me on a Lois Lowry kick. Next up was GOSSAMER. And it surprised me how touched I was by it. The story comes together in this unusual way, and I was completely drawn in on an emotional level.... if you haven't read it, please do.
Also, consider these wise words from Lois Lowry's acceptance speech for the 1994 Newbery Medal:
"Let me say something to those of you here who do such dangerous work.
The man that I named The Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing.
It is very risky.
But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom. Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things."
Lois, thanks for giving us Elsewhere and choices and freedom. I'm so pleased our books have become companions. :)