Gathering Blue is a 2000 novel by noted children's author Lois Lowry. This book is a companion novel to the The Giver (1993), and is followed by Messenger (2004) in The Giver trilogy. It is set in the same future time period, but possibly takes place in the year 2067, about two years after the events of "The Giver", and it treats some of the same themes. The central character, Kira, who has a twisted leg, is orphaned and must learn to survive in a society which normally leaves the weak or disabled exposed to die.
 Plot summary
This book considers a possibility which humankind might face in the future, although it does so in a much different way than The Giver. Where The Giver takes place in a human future where scientists have created a society that seems utopian on the surface yet closely resembles a modern communist nation, Gathering Blue clearly takes place in a dystopian society. People live in primitive, animalistic ways and must revert to aggressive behavior to survive. Children (referred to as "tykes") are beaten and penned up like animals so that they do not interfere with the work of the adults. Those who are different (such as the physically deformed) are often killed. It is hinted at throughout the book that the communities are post-apocalyptic; at one point when Kira is looking at an embroidered robe, she notes cities all over being utterly destroyed, and rebuilt bigger and better, then destroyed again, and so on.
However, it appears that an outlet exists whereby the community might be re-created into a more fulfilling way of life. Some of the characters (Kira, Thomas, and Jo) are born with a mystical skill; a nearly magical unity with a certain craft or capacity. In Kira, thread and color seem to take on life of their own, creating wonderful and sometimes prophetic images. Thomas can do the same with woodcarving, and Jo with music. Thomas is a boy who is about Kira's age. They live close to each other in the rooms provided for them, and they often share their meals and days together. Their task is to preserve the historical record kept in the embroidery of a robe, the carvings of a staff, and the voice of a bard who bears these things.
Kira is often kept company by a mischievous boy called Matt (in the society, as a person ages, his or her name gains a syllable at certain intervals, including puberty, adulthood and the overall experience of becoming a man; when Matt felt that he was old enough, he added the second syllable himself), who looks to Kira much as he would look to a generous, indulgent, but uncorrupted older sister. It is Matt who unwittingly reveals the flaws in society to Kira, who conveys them to Thomas. Ultimately the artists realize that they were purposely made orphans by the Council of Guardians, the group which rules their community. Kira's mother, Katrina, dies of a mysterious illness that is not spread to any other person in the community, and her father, Christopher, is said to have been taken by ambiguously described 'beasts'. The said Council makes every deceptive effort to keep the artists under its control, usually by instilling fear.
Another means of control, not only of the artists but of the populace, is that of giving the people, through the historical record, cause to believe that their lives will never be more peaceful or harmonious than they are at present. The artists are directed to create certain patterns determined by the Guardians, rather than permitted to share their visions of the future.
It is shown by Matt that another village exists, wherein all is kindness and healing. No one is scorned or snubbed therein; they are instead encouraged to fulfill their dreams and love one another. There, Kira's father Christopher dwells, having been driven from home before Kira was born by the Guardian Jamison, who tried to kill him because he was jealous over Christopher's abilities. Kira is offered a place in this Village of healing, but refuses it on the grounds that she may help her own people with her knowledge and her creative powers.
There is a reference made by Matt to a boy of Kira's age, who has a name of two syllables, is eligible for marriage, and has eyes of "a very amazing blue". Throughout the story, the color blue is used as a metaphor for freedom and limitlessness; Matt's delivery of it to Kira marks the beginning of her creative community reforms. The boy in question is generally understood to be Jonas of The Giver, although his name is not mentioned.
Several of the characters reappear in Messenger (2004), which forms the third installment of this loose trilogy.
· 1 decade ago