Lois Lowry: The End of The Giver

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Lois Lowry’s The Giver is one of the most celebrated children’s books of our era, and one of the most banned. In the Community, where everything seems just about perfect — no hunger, no inequality, no strife — a boy learns that the prized virtue of “Sameness” is achieved through a regimen of pills that suppress emotion and will, and by quietly executing people, even infants, who don’t fit in. It could be a kinder, gentler 1984, or it could be a cautionary tale for America. More than a decade before The Hunger Games, Lowry pushed the boundaries of teen and tween literature as far as they would go.

She returns to the Community in the fourth book in The Giver series. Son is the story of Claire, assigned at age 12 to the job of birthmother, who feels a forbidden love for the boy she delivers at 14. She becomes desperate when it appears that he is not the same as the other babies.

Lowry tells Kurt Andersen that she was surprised that The Giver faced such controversy, but understands how protective adults feel. “I had kids and I have grandchildren, and I would like to protect them from everything in the world,” she says. “But in honesty I do think that literature is a way that kids can explore what they're going to have to face when they're older, and they can do it safely.” Yet Lowry admits that she has qualms about Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, with its brutal acts of child violence.

But perhaps the success of the Hunger Games movie has given its predecessor a boost. Lowry reveals that, after nearly 20 years, a film of The Giver will finally begin shooting. Jeff Bridges had originally intended his father, Lloyd, to play the role of the elderly Giver; now Bridges himself (not so elderly, but well weathered) will play the role. Casting for the boy Jonas is underway, she says.

Son leaves a few loose ends surreptitiously hanging — Lowry is a fan of Homeland — but confirms that there will be no fifth book. “I think sometimes these TV series tend to go on too long, for reasons that you can understand, because they make a lot of money for them. And I think sometimes book series go on too long,” she tells Kurt. “I’m 75 years old. I don’t have that many more years left to do this and there are other things that I want explore.”

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