Reviews for Son


Booklist Reviews 2012 June #1
*Starred Review* Fans of The Giver (1993)--and they are legion--will find themselves immediately pulled back into the sterile, ordered world where conformity is the only virtue. The focus here is on 14-year-old Claire, and when readers first see her, she is strapped onto a table, masked, about to give birth. As a Birthmother, Claire's job is finished once her baby is born, until the next pregnancy. But unusual circumstances, including a cesarean, get Claire moved from the birthing center to the fish hatchery, and someone forgets to give Claire the pills everyone in the community takes--the ones that suppress feelings and individuality. Without that wall, Claire begins to long for her son and finds opportunities to see him. Slowly, readers of the previous titles in the quartet will come to understand that Claire's baby is not unfamiliar to them. When the boy disappears, Claire decides, against all odds, that she must find him. That brings her to a seaside community where she strengthens body, mind, and spirit to continue her search. One of The Giver's strengths was the unvarnished writing style that reflected the book's ordered community. Lowry captures that same feeling again and turns it inside out as Claire moves through two more distinct settings, both haunting in their own right. Though her time at the seaside village may seem long to some readers (and it is--more than 10 years), the vividness of the descriptions--from the hardness of the rock to the roiling of the water--makes up for the length. Lowry is one of those rare writers who can craft stories as meaningful as they are enticing. Once again she provides plenty of weighty matters for readers to think about: What is important in life? What are you willing to trade for your desires? And the conflict that has been going on since stories began: Who is able to conquer evil? Don't miss our feature, "Another Look at Lois Lowry's The Giver Quartet." Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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BookPage Reviews 2012 October
A frightening and familiar world

Almost 20 years have passed since the publication of Lois Lowry’s Newbery-winning novel The Giver. While dystopian stories are widespread today, Lowry’s 1993 book was a pioneer in the genre for young readers, and it remains a searing and unforgettable reading experience.

It’s therefore chilling to be transported back to this colorless, controlled community where sameness is the norm, and where a boy named Jonas is designated as the “Receiver” of the society’s past memories. But that’s exactly what readers have in store with Son, Lowry’s latest book and the final volume in The Giver Quartet. Son introduces a new character, Claire, a 14-year-old girl who is somewhat embarrassed to be assigned the role of birthmother.

Things don’t go as planned for Claire. She becomes a “Vessel,” but has such difficulty with the birth of her first “Product” that she is sent instead to work at the fish hatchery.

Claire is filled with a sense of loss and an urgency to be with her baby. She finds a way to visit the Nurturing Center, all the while hiding her true intentions: to be with her son, no matter what it takes.

Claire’s story is riveting. And for readers of The Giver, reading Son is like visiting a place you lived long ago: Memories flood back; the landscape is eerily familiar; you start to recall people and events.

The events in Claire’s life connect so effortlessly with The Giver it seems as if Lowry must have planned it this way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“I thought The Giver would be a single book,” laughs the author, speaking from her home in Maine. She was inspired to continue Jonas’ story in part because of young readers’ reactions to The Giver’s ambiguous ending.

“Kids like things tied up a little more,” she explains. “It was clear from letters and emails that kids didn’t like the ambiguity of the ending.” This led to the next books in the series, Gathering Blue and Messenger.

Similarly, readers’ curiosity about another character in The Giver prompted Lowry to write Son and return to the world that Jonas fled. (In preparation, Lowry herself sat down to reread the first book!)

Just as Lowry never planned to write a quartet, she also doesn’t do much planning for individual books. “I never have a plot carefully thought out,” Lowry explains. “As an author you want to create a journey.”

Critical to Claire’s journey is that somehow, after she is sent to the fish hatchery, no one remembers to give her the “pills,” which are used to stop stirrings—of love, dreams, longing and emotions. While she didn’t know what would happen to Claire, Lowry understood her character’s passionate need to connect with her son. For readers who know that Lowry herself lost a son (an Air Force pilot who was killed in the crash of his F-15), the story has added resonance.

Claire’s journey takes her to a place far from the world of The Giver, to an isolated village at the foot of a high, terrifying cliff. In Claire’s new home, the technology that permeates the community of The Giver is absent. Lowry’s juxtaposition of primitive conditions and advanced technology draws inspiration from her life and the connections she makes to others.

For some time, she has been part of Women for Women International, a program that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives. Through a monthly sponsorship, Lowry is helping a mother of five in Afghanistan support and educate her children; her photo is posted by Lowry’s computer, a reminder that many people in our world still struggle with poverty and difficult living conditions.

Lowry is a mentor and role model, as well as a mother, grandmother and a writer with an immense dedication to her readers. So it’s probably no accident that Claire finds help in her own quest to be reunited with her son.

“I realize in looking back that Jonas, Kira, Matty, Gabe and Claire each find a mentor, or someone who gives them wisdom,” the renowned author notes, reflecting on the main characters in The Giver Quartet. “It seems to be a recurring theme.”

While Lowry only works on one project at a time, she feels fortunate that inspiration still strikes. “Within the past week, the beginning of a new book appeared in my imagination,” she reveals. She started to write down what had come to her.

“I suddenly realized I had written five pages,” Lowry says. She closed the file on her computer: She has another deadline to fulfill.

But the book will be waiting for her—and hopefully someday for us—when she is ready.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Claire's son Gabriel, the baby Jonas rescues in The Giver, disappears; in her quest to find her son, Claire eventually washes up on the beach of an isolated village without her memory. The strength of this novel is its compassionate portrait of a mother's commitment to her lost child, and the book will be of great interest to those hooked on Lowry's series.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #5
Lowry begins Son by returning to the rigid, passionless community of The Giver (rev. 7/93), this time pursuing the story of Claire, the young woman who gave birth to Gabriel, the baby Jonas rescues in The Giver. Claire's son is taken from her at birth, as is the way of this institutional culture, and nurtured in the communal nursery. Against the rules, Claire visits him regularly until, one night, baby and Jonas disappear. That same night, Claire also departs in a state of confused turmoil, eventually washing up on the beach of an isolated coastal village, having lost her memory. Her quest to regain it and find her son leads her to Jonas, Kira, and Gabriel of Lowry's earlier related books. Straightforward sentences; simple, accessible language; and a linear plot govern this novel that emphasizes the dangers of conformity and overvaluation of a "rational" life. Lowry foregoes dramatic suspense for measured tones and deliberate sequences of action -- a style that suits the bland, antiseptic environment of Claire's and Jonas's origins. A final confrontation (between Gabe and Trademaster) replays the battle against evil that seemed to have been vanquished by Matty's Christ-like sacrifice at the end of Messenger (rev. 5/04). Lengthy and somewhat mechanical in its plot, the strength of this novel is its compassionate portrait of a mother's commitment to her lost child. The book will be of greatest interest to those already hooked on Lowry's series. deirdre f. baker

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #2
In this long-awaited finale to the Giver Quartet, a young mother from a dystopian community searches for her son and sacrifices everything to find him living in a more humane society with characters from The Giver (1993), Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004). A designated Birthmother, 14-year-old Claire has no contact with her baby Gabe until she surreptitiously bonds with him in the community Nurturing Center. From detailed descriptions of the sterile, emotionally repressed community, it's clear Lowry has returned to the time and place of The Giver, and Claire is Jonas' contemporary. When Jonas flees with Gabe, Claire follows. She later surfaces with amnesia in a remote village beneath a cliff. After living for years with Alys, a childless healer, Claire's memory returns. Intent on finding Gabe, she single-mindedly scales the cliff, encounters the sinister Trademaster and exchanges her youth for his help in finding her child, now living in the same village as middle-aged Jonas and his wife Kira. Elderly and failing, Claire reveals her identity to Gabe, who must use his unique talent to save the village. Written with powerful, moving simplicity, Claire's story stands on its own, but as the final volume in this iconic quartet, it holistically reunites characters, reprises provocative socio-political themes, and offers a transcending message of tolerance and hope. Bravo! (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
In this long-awaited finale to the Giver Quartet, a young mother from a dystopian community searches for her son and sacrifices everything to find him living in a more humane society with characters from The Giver (1993), Gathering Blue (2000) and Messenger (2004). A designated Birthmother, 14-year-old Claire has no contact with her baby Gabe until she surreptitiously bonds with him in the community Nurturing Center. From detailed descriptions of the sterile, emotionally repressed community, it's clear Lowry has returned to the time and place of The Giver, and Claire is Jonas' contemporary. When Jonas flees with Gabe, Claire follows. She later surfaces with amnesia in a remote village beneath a cliff. After living for years with Alys, a childless healer, Claire's memory returns. Intent on finding Gabe, she single-mindedly scales the cliff, encounters the sinister Trademaster and exchanges her youth for his help in finding her child, now living in the same village as middle-aged Jonas and his wife Kira. Elderly and failing, Claire reveals her identity to Gabe, who must use his unique talent to save the village. Written with powerful, moving simplicity, Claire's story stands on its own, but as the final volume in this iconic quartet, it holistically reunites characters, reprises provocative socio-political themes, and offers a transcending message of tolerance and hope. Bravo! (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 January/February
Lois Lowry fans will love this final chapter in the Giver books. It is divided into three chronological parts. Children are manufactured by birthmothers, and people are given pills so they don't experience emotion. Claire, a 14-year-old birthmother, is forced to give up her child and is apparently the only one who experiences any emotion. Claire's birthing goes awry and the child she produces doesn't adjust well in the nursery. Just hours before he is to be eliminated, the child is kidnapped. In the next part, Claire washes ashore in a distant community and is nursed by the local healer. In the third part, she leaves the community but has traded something very important in order to be reunited with her son. With fierce determination and the help of others, Claire is able to finally pursue him. Lowry does a good job of bringing back several characters from previous novels and intertwining their stories with Claire's. Teri Hennessy, Library Information Specialist, Wilmette (Illinois) J . High School [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #2

Drawing characters and themes from The Giver and its companions, Gathering Blue and Messenger, Lowry concludes her Giver Quartet nearly 20 years after the Newbery Medal-winning first book was published. The story is divided into three sections, and in the completely absorbing opening, Lowry transports readers back to the horrifying world from which Jonas came. The spotlight is on 14-year-old Claire, a Birthmother who is given an emergency Caesarean to save "the Product." The child survives, but Claire is coldly "decertified" and sent to work elsewhere, mystified as to what happened to her and her baby. Those familiar with The Giver will feel the pieces fall into place as Claire figures out which Product is hers and tracks his progress. Part two details Claire's decade-long struggle to remember who she is, and it suffers slightly from having a main character afflicted with a well-worn plot device (amnesia); the final third reunites characters from all three previous novels for a showdown with evil incarnate. If the latter sections don't quite keep up with the thrilling revelations of the first, Lowry still ties together these stories in a wholly satisfying way. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September

Gr 6 Up--This final volume in the sequence of books that began with The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993) returns for the first time to the regimented community of that book. Lowry recounts the events through the eyes of a new character, Claire, a Birthmother. When her first "Production" goes wrong, she endures a cesarean delivery and is summarily reassigned to the fish hatchery. But she can never let go of the idea of the son to whom she has given birth (Product #36) and manages to track him down in visits to the Nurturing Center. The baby turns out to be Gabe, the infant taken in by Jonas's family in The Giver. Claire meets Jonas's father and is able to maintain a tenuous relationship with her child. When Gabe is set to be "released" rather than permanently assigned to a family, things look dire indeed. Claire manages to escape the community on a supply boat headed "Elsewhere." Washed up on a beach after a storm, she has no memory of who she is or from whence she came. With the help of the villagers who have taken her in, she slowly regains some bits of her past and sets out to find her son. A harrowing encounter with the Trademaster leads her finally to Gabe, whom she finds in the village introduced in Messenger, along with Jonas, who is now appropriately the scholar/librarian of the community. Infinitely more satisfying than the previous installment, Son is a tender conclusion to this memorable story, and definitely the best of the books in this sequence since The Giver itself.--Tim Wadham, Children's Literature Consultant, Fenton, MO

[Page 150]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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