Lowry. Lois Lowry. The Giver was written in 1993 and 1992 was my first year at a teacher-librarian. This is important because Son (the 4th book in the series she calls a quartet) came out in August of 2014. Not quite the same turnaround time you see with a series like Hunger Games, Divergent, Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. Lois took her time as if she was on a reconnaissance mission with the characters and had to journey forward and back to get the details from each point of view. The timeline for this series was like this: The Giver, 1993. Then Gathering Blue was released in 2000! Unhead of! Then Messenger in 2004 and Son in 2014. I recall feeling angry about how long it was taking. 

I love Lois for giving the world this series. It is a journey into the depths of the human experience. The society, at first glance appears utopian and the exploration into sameness shows us that what in fact makes us who we are is our differences and our pain. Every time I talk with students about this series I get choked up.  I'm older every year, of course, but I am meeting students who are meeting her for the first time. This book is one of the first books they read with their class that might be unsettling. They may not like it. However, they are lucky students since they are now able to move forward into the whole set and gain context that didn't exist before. 

At first, I was confused. The Giver was more than a story of preserving memories for a society and shielding its people from pain and division. It was also about loss. Even the loss of choice. I read a story about how Lois's father was exhibiting various sytmpons of dementia as he grew older and older and at one point he did not recall that he'd had another daughter. Lois's sister Helen died in1962 of cancer. Lois writes about that experience in her novel, A Summer To Die. Her father forgot he had another daughter. Lois tells the story of how it might be nice to forget something painful. She describes that as the begining of the idea for The Giver.   Every year I've learned more about more about Lois and how this story is about our connections to one another. Most stories do present connections and interdependence among the characters and perhaps the dystopia is when we deny ourselves those connection. The real connections.

I love what I do, but the bonus benefit is that I get to see how an author's career evolves. Lois Lowry was born in 1937; my dad was born in 1936 and I have always felt a kinship with her. I can't look at a weaver in our local farmers market and not think of Kira.  I consider how the storylines of people in my life, past and present are intertwined. That's not fiction. That's life!

Today is the first day of Spring and it's also Lois Lowry's birthday. Put down your devices and tech and spend some time talking about anything and everything. Engage in this magical, messy, unpredictable, joyous thing we call life! That's our purpose.

And if you haven't read the quartet. Do it. 

Thanks for joining me today.

Ms. Connie Pappas

Teacher-Librarian, Skyridge Middle School