For 19 years, readers of Lois Lowry’s award-winning book The Giver have wondered how the story would end. This month, the fourth and final book in the series, Son, hit stores. Lowry sat down with TFK Kid Reporter Adriana Palmieri to talk about the complete series and her life as a writer.
Son is the fourth and final book of a series that started with Newbery Medal winner, The Giver. Did you have a particular message in mind when you wrote The Giver?
I hate books with messages. There is no message in The Giver. I just try to tell a story. Sometimes then, readers will find things that are messages in the book, but I didn’t consciously put them in there.
Where did you get the idea for The Giver?
The Giver was written 20 years ago. My father was very old at that time, and he was losing his memory. So, I was thinking a lot about memory and what it would be like if we could control other people’s memories, and that’s kind of what became the book The Giver.
Did traveling all over the world as a young girl influence how you thought of society?
Traveling and living all over the world as a young kid made me an observant person. I was always very shy, and so it was sometimes difficult to be the new kid in a school or a foreign country. But it taught me to see things, to notice things and to pay attention to things, and that’s important for a writer.
What is your new book, Son, about?
In the book The Giver at the end of the book and throughout the book, there is a baby named Gabe. The new book Son is about him and what has become of him. But it is about more than that too. In The Giver, there are young girls who are chosen when they are 12 to be birthmothers, and their job is to produce babies for the community. So, a lot of the book focuses on the young girl who has given birth to Gabe. She’s a new character, [and] her name is Claire.
What is your goal as a writer?
Just to tell a good story. I don’t want to teach anybody anything. I don’t want to influence their politics or make them into religious people.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I was lucky that I grew up in a house that had a lot of books and in a family that read a lot. And I think that’s what most inspired me. There was no particular person who influenced me, although my mother had been a teacher before she got married, and she would read to us a lot when we were children.
In any of your novels, is there a certain character that represents you?
Two of my books, A Summer to Die and Autumn Street, are autobiographical, so the main character is me, though I’ve given myself a different name. In the other books, the characters are all fictional. But I think probably in each book, the main character, even though sometimes it’s a boy, probably has my characteristics. I think in most of my books the main characters are often very introspective, which means they think a lot and are creative. That would have been me at that age. Also, two of my books, Stay and Bless this Mouse, are about non-humans. One had a dog as a main character, and one has a mouse. But even so, that dog and that mouse have my characteristics.
What is your proudest achievement as a writer?
I do not have an answer for that. There are things that I have been proud of in each book, and there are things I wish I could go back and change in each book because I feel I could’ve done better. But you know, that’s probably a good thing, because if you felt as though something you did was perfect then why would you go on to do it again? You always work on trying to do it better.
Did you like to write as a young girl?
Oh yeah. That is what I always did best and liked best. Matter of fact, there is a children’s magazine that is still published, and its name is Jack and Jill. It was around when I was a child, and when I was 10 years old, they had two pages where they printed letters from kids. They printed one of my letters, and after all these years I found it. It said the year 1947, and there was my letter, and it says in my letter [that] I am writing a book. It is called A Dog Named Lucky, and I am on chapter 13. I have no memory of that book, and I never finished it. I probably never got beyond chapter 13. I was being a writer even then when I was 10.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I travel a lot, and I like to spend time with my grandchildren. I have a dog and a cat. I have gardens. And the thing I most enjoy is I go to movies. That’s what I miss in the summer. I have a wonderful summer house, but it is way far away from any movie theater.