Gathering Blue was an interesting, simple, and light read. It was written for the adolescent market, but is universal in its appeal. The simplicity of the story is notable in Lowry’s sparse description of the dystopian world of the protagonist, in the slow pacing, and in the characters’ points-of-view. The story portrays ignorant people living a primitive life. There is a shroud over the complexity underneath the surface that stays in place till the very end when the truth changes everything.
The embroidery imagery, portraying history in thread pictures, drew me in. I am a fiber artist and appreciate the analogy, though those without a wool thumb will still enjoy the story. The tying together of the embroidery theme with the slow unraveling of the mystery was wonderful to experience. And the absence of and desire for the color blue in a world hiding the truth was a wonderful use of symbolism.
I also appreciated the author’s push toward the importance of the truth. Truth is worth sacrificing for- even if the sacrifice requires that we stay behind and live in the dark in order to be a light and create a new future.
The parallels in this book with my own, The Red String- Days of the Guardian were stupefying- because they were unintended, having read Gathering Blue two years after writing The Red String.It appears Lois Lowry and I both appreciate using color as symbolism. As with The Hunger Games, Divergent, and other dystopian novels, there are common threads and ideas common to all dystopian worlds. This time, the oppressive government character in Gathering Blue shared a similar title to The Red String’s character of government resistance- “Guardian.” It is delightful how the same word is used by both Lowry and me, though not redundant in the meaning. The most surprising similarity of the two novels would force me to reveal spoilers to each, so I can only recommend reading them both. Then we can share in the secret knowledge and be satisfied in the knowing. Hints? Family, outcasts, and community.
Gathering Blue is brief and easy to read. For those who have never read dystopian fiction, this would be a nice, noncommittal tasting.
(Full disclosure- I have not yet read The Giver, of which Gathering Blue is considered a companion novel. From what I have read in other reviews, this fact could be considered a good thing or a bad thing. I simply thought you should be aware.)
“”He gestured toward her twisted leg. “Like you. Some don’t walk good. Some be broken in other ways. Not all. But lots. Do you think it maken them quiet and nice, to be broken?”
Puzzled by his description, Kira didn’t answer. Pain makes you strong, her mother had told her. She had not said quiet, or nice.
“Anyways,” Matt went on, “them got blue, for certain sure.”
“For certain sure,” Kira repeated.
–Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry
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