Hey readers, it’s Laura here and I’m here to give you the scoop on the Lois Lowry event that took place on Monday, October 15. Before I dive into the main speech given by Ms. Lowry, let me tell you more about the event itself and give a little background information about Lois.
When I first arrived at Book People at 5:30, the entire front section of the second floor was crammed full of people! The crowd had been there since at about 4:30 and even more people were streaming in after I go there. All age groups were represented at this event, from grandparents to little 5 year olds and everyone in between. As for Miss Lowry, she has been writing since the 1970’s and has released a book every year. That’s more than 30 books! This mother of four may be 75, but she is as spry and energetic as ever. Her speech was hilarious and revealed a lot about just who she was. Well, I guess I better get started on her speech. I hope I can convey just how amazing it was when I heard it.
As soon as Lois stepped up to the podium, there was a roar of applause loud enough so that I couldn’t hear myself think. She started off with a little background information then moved straight into The Giver series. First, she had to borrow two books from the crowd. Never in my life have I seen so many people raise their hands to volunteer for something! Once the books were selected, Miss Lowry gave a background on when The Giver was written and how she had gotten the idea for it.
It was 1992; she was on a plane back home from a visit to her father, who was sick. You see, his memory was starting to fade and on this particular visit, she finally started to realize just how bad his memory was getting; it got to the point where he would forget her sister, his daughter, who had died at a young age. Each time, Lois would have to explain who she was and what happened to her, reliving her sister’s death each time. These visits further inspired Lois’s fascination by memories and dreams because they are different for every individual and are so mysterious. This fascination led her to come up with the fantasy of a pill that could dissolve all sad memories. This, my friends, was the idea that created The Giver.
Lois begins all her books with a common set up. First, she chooses the main character, who is always around the age of 12 (because they are beginning to leave childhood and enter adulthood) and decide if it’s a boy or a girl. Second, in the very first sentences of the book, she describes her characters and adds some discord; just enough of a taste so that readers will be interested and want to keep reading. At the time when she finished the novel, she thought she gave it a wonderful ending. However, her readers didn’t seem to agree; ambiguous endings just weren’t their style (or mine quiet honestly). At the time she had no intentions of continuing The Giver as a series.
It was 1999 when she wrote Gathering Blue, the second in the series. She follows the same pattern as she does with most of her books: she opens with a little bit of discord, in this case a handicapped girl sitting beside her mother’s dead body. As Lois was writing this story, she gave her main character, Kira, friends, especially Matt. If you read the story, you remember that Matt was an abused, mistreated, bad boy who eventually runs away. He returns and tells Kira about this wonderful place where people are kind and nice; during this description, he describes a boy who has very bright blue eyes (any guesses who?), which is where you begin to see how this story ties in with The Giver.
She continued on to talk about the third book in the series, The Messenger. For those haven’t read this book, the main character is Matty, or Matt, from Gathering Blue. It takes place in the village that Matt first escaped to when he left Kira, in which Jonas is renamed as the leader. After she finished this book, Lois thought she had finally given all of her readers that perfect ending with no loose strings. Unfortunately, her readers disagreed; they wanted to know what happened to Gabe, the child that Jonas took with him when he left his home. So this is where Son begins.
Before Lois went into the plot of Son, she told us a story that influenced the way she wrote Claire. It was September 1975 and Lois was still a housewife with four children, living in Maine. One of their neighbors had just gone camping and their four year old child just wandered off into the forest. The story was all over the news in their area and they brought in everyone they could to search for the child. After a while though, they had to call of the search. They were never able to find that child. Being a mother herself, this event really affected Lois, as it would any mother.
This story above is pretty much what Claire, the mother of Gabe, goes through as she leaves on a journey to find her son, which is the essential summary of what goes on in Son.
For Laura’s Q & A with Lois Lowry, click here.