Son (novel)

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Son by Lois Lowry
Son by Lois Lowry.jpg
Publication date
October 2, 2012
Media typePrint (hardback)
Pages393 pp
Preceded byMessenger 

Son is the final entry in The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry. It was preceded by Messenger, the third book of the series. The book follows Claire, the mother of Gabriel, the baby seen in The Giver.[1]


Son is written in three parts, each with a subtitle: Before, Between, and Beyond.


Before takes place in the same location ("The Community") and at the same time as The Giver. Claire's assigned occupation in the community is Birth Mother, whose primary responsibility is to give birth. At the start of the book, Claire is nearing the end of her pregnancy. She gives birth to her child at 14, but complications during labor necessitate delivery by Cesarean section. Three weeks after giving birth, Claire reports to the birthing unit office and is reassigned to work at the Fish Hatchery. Before she leaves, she inquires after the baby she delivered, and the officer informs her that the baby is healthy, accidentally informing Claire that the child is male and number Thirty-Six in his year.

Claire retains curiosity for her son as she begins work at the Fish Hatchery and begins casually volunteering at the infant nurturing center to see him. As she plays with Thirty-Six, she quickly grows to love him, a feeling she finds that she alone experiences. She later realizes that all adult community members take pills that suppress emotions. As a Birth Mother, she was instructed not to take the pills, and the matter was overlooked in her reassignment. Claire is told that Thirty-Six is going "Elsewhere" for his failure to thrive according to the community's standards. Before she can do anything, her son is saved and taken away by Jonas, the protagonist from The Giver. Claire attempts to follow them on a supply boat, but the boat soon encounters a strong storm and is shipwrecked.


In Between, Claire is rescued from the beach the supply boat shipwrecked on. She is taken in by a midwife, Alys, while she tries to regain her memory, as she has suffered from temporary amnesia after the wreck. Once her memories return, a man, Lame Einar, trains her to be able to escape the village they are in. She must be able to climb a steep cliff up out of the valley. After climbing the cliff, she meets an evil entity, Trademaster, which offers to take her to her son if she trades her youth. Claire agrees and is turned into an old woman, and her son, named Gabriel (aka Gabe), is located.


In Beyond, Gabe is now a young man, with a power to see into other people's minds for a split second, called "veering." Gabe is also curious about his old home and his real mother. Meanwhile, Jonas notices Claire, finds out that she is the mother of Gabe, and convinces Gabe that Claire is his mother and that the Trademaster is evil and caused her to grow old.

Gabe is then told that the Trademaster must be killed. He meets the Trademaster, veers into its body, and understands that the Trademaster is hungry for suffering. Gabe then tells the Trademaster of all the people that he has tried to destroy and how they are living happily again. That destroys the Trademaster, and when Gabe returns home, Claire returns to her younger self.

Themes and development[edit]

Themes in Son include those of love, obligation, sacrifice, and loss.[2] Lowry had originally not planned on writing Son or any sequels to The Giver, but she was inspired to write the story after she "decided to describe what became of him [Gabriel] as he grew up."[3] Initially intending to center the book on Gabriel and his determination to discover his past, Lowry instead found herself being drawn to write more about Claire. She stated, "I wasn't aware of it at the time... but when I was writing of her yearning to find her boy, that was coming out of my own yearning to have my own son back."[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Reception for Son has been mostly positive, with the book gaining starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Booklist.[5][6] A reviewer for The Washington Post wrote that the book had a "quiet climax", stating that the ultimate "power of this parable" is that "It confronts us with some of the choices we are making and plays out the consequences."[7] Robin Wasserman of The New York Times commented that Son did well as a standalone novel and praised Lowry's descriptions in the book.[2] The Boston Globe criticized the book's "over-elaborations and pacing" while writing that "overall the journey is still worth the effort".[8] The AV Club commented that while the book could have used more world-building, it is also "just plain good young-adult literature".[9]


  1. ^ Williams, John. "Book Review Podcast: The Final Book in Lois Lowry's 'Giver' Quartet". New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b Wasserman, Robin. "The Searcher". New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  3. ^ Dar, Mahnaz. "Lois Lowry Talks About Her Latest Novel, 'Son'". School Library Journal. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  4. ^ Kois, Dan. "The Children's Author Who Actually Listens to Children". New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  5. ^ "SON by Lois Lowry | Kirkus Book Reviews". 15 September 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  6. ^ Cooper, Irene (1 June 2012). "Son, by Lois Lowry | Booklist Online". Booklist Online. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  7. ^ Quattlebaum, Mary (September 28, 2012). "Book World: 'Son' by Lois Lowry concludes series that began with 'The Giver'". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  8. ^ Rosenberg, Liz (October 3, 2012). "'Son' by Lois Lowry". Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  9. ^ McFarland, Kevin. "Lois Lowry's new Son finally concludes and resolves the classic story of The Giver". AV Club. Retrieved 19 October 2012.

External links[edit]