A Grandson, And “Son”

Hey, readers and followers, I just wanted to check in and apologize for my lack of posts over the past month or so. My co-worker took a three-week vacation, which has resulted in more hours for me, and at one point I worked nine days straight. Besides having a heavier work schedule, I also became a grandmother for the first time!

Me with my newly-born grandson, Joseph Orlando, born April 2nd.

All that to say my time for reading and writing has been very limited, although I did recently manage to finish the fourth and last book of Lois Lowry’s Giver series, Son. Coincidentally, I received Son in the mail the same day my daughter-in-law went into labor. As I was getting ready to head out to the hospital to await the birth of my grandson, I decided I should bring a book to read for the potentially long hours of waiting, and grabbed my new book.

SONIt wasn’t until I opened it up in the Labor & Delivery room and began reading that the appropriateness of my choice struck me. The first two chapters describe a young girl named Claire who, having been selected as a Birthmother for her community, undergoes a difficult delivery by C-section. After the procedure, the “product” of her delivery is taken away to be nurtured and then assigned to a suitable family unit. Claire never overcomes her sense of loss, and becomes determined to find her son and possibly establish a relationship with him. Son is divided into three sections, which are set in three different communities. The first part moved quickly, and the reader begins to recognize who the characters are in relation to the prior books. The middle section dragged a bit, with a little too much tedious detail about Claire’s decision and preparation for setting out to find her son, but the third part wraps up the story nicely. In this book, Lowry ties the characters from The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger together in a satisfying way. I do like the strong family ties that Lowry depicts in the last three books, an element which the community in The Giver was intentionally lacking.

A movie adaptation of The Giver was released in August 2014; the official trailer is available on YouTube. While I enjoyed the film and would recommend it, I was frustrated with some of the changes to the story and characters that were made.

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Have you read The Giver and the other books in Lois Lowry’s quartet? What did you think?

The Making of a Perfect World, Part 2: The Giver

GiverThe Giver by Lois Lowry

“We don’t dare let people make choices of their own…We really have to protect people from wrong choices.”

In my previous article, I talked about Utopia by Sir Thomas More and the concept of utopian societies. Utopia was More’s attempt to critique some of the problems in his society and put forth a challenge for reform, but many of the ideas proposed in his story are far-fetched and impractical. From More’s work, a lot of other utopian and dystopian literature developed and dystopian fiction and films are continually being written.

Dystopia happens to be one of my favorite genres of fiction. So here’s the funny thing: I’m sometimes accused of being a perfectionist by people who know me well, but for some reason, I enjoy reading stories of societies which are far from perfect, even though they were established with that intention. I think I like these stories because as a “perfectionist” I’m also a fixer. If I see something amiss, or something that I think could be improved upon, I just have to jump in and try to remedy the situation. So I can relate to the story characters that see the problems in their culture and are not content to just accept it and go along with society. I also admire characters who are determined to fight evil and injustice, even when it means defying the culture they live in. Continue reading “The Making of a Perfect World, Part 2: The Giver”

The Making of a Perfect World, Part 1: Utopia

Utopia by Sir Thomas More

“The source of happiness is much disputed, among all people, in Utopia.” – Thomas More
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

One of my favorite genres of literature is dystopia, but before I talk about dystopian fiction, let’s take a look at its predecessor. Most people are familiar with the term utopia, which originated with the fictional work by Thomas More published in 1516. Utopia was written shortly after the discovery of the New World, an event which stimulated the human imagination and brought with it a sense of new possibilities. It can be considered the first English science fiction, as the story describes an unreal place (located in the New World) which could be real (at least hypothetically) in the future. More’s imaginative society represents an ideal one in which many social problems are controlled or eliminated, such as war, crime and poverty, yet its plans for social improvement are in many ways impractical. Ironically, and significantly, the word utopia can literally be translated as “good place” or “no place,” suggesting that the author acknowledged that there is no such thing as a perfect society. Continue reading “The Making of a Perfect World, Part 1: Utopia”