February 6, 2013
First sentence: "The young girl cringed when they buckled the eyeless leather mask around the upper half of her face and blinded her."
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Others in the series: The Giver (which I have read, but not reviewed; I should reread it!), Gathering Blue, Messenger
Welcome back to the world of The Giver, where everything is perfect. This time, we get to see it through the eyes of 14-year-old Claire, who has been selected as a Birthmother, which is exactly what it sounds like. Through artificial insemination (it's a very sexless society), she gets pregnant and delivers a "product" for the community, number Thirty-six. Except, things don't go well for her: she ends up having a C-section, and afterward is deemed unfit to be a birthmother, and is summarily dismissed.
She's supposed to move on, to lead a productive life, but she can't get her son out of her mind. She ends up visiting him in the nurture center, feeling the bonds of motherhood growing stronger. And then (as all who have read The Giver know), things come to a head (though Claire is not involved in them), and Jonas leaves with the baby.
Claire next wakes up (I was unclear how she came to be unconscious, but that's probably just me), in a community by the ocean, in the shadow of a cliff wall. She recovers there, and regains her memory and a purpose: to find her son.
I liked this novel, but I'm not sure I loved it. On the one hand, it was fun revisiting the world Lowry created, seeing people I'm familiar with, and hearing the story from another point of view. On the other hand, even as a mother, I'm not sure I fully grasped Claire's desire to find her son at the exclusion of all else. The story went in directions that I wasn't fully satisfied with, and I have to admit that I found the ending too pat. I think I expected more from Lowry and from the world. What I got was good, but not as good as I had hoped.
(For the record, C really liked this one. She said it's her second-favorite in the series, after The Giver, of course.)