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Me: I need to finish my book now. It’s at the exciting part!
My kids gave me quizzical looks.
Me: I had to leave to tutor before I could finish! And it’s the really good part!
Parker: Then go finish your book!

They mostly left me alone while I read the gripping conclusion of Messenger by Lois Lowry. Getting to the end only made me want to read the last book in the four book series that much more. Especially when I turned the page on my Kindle and saw the invitation to read the beginning of the next book. So I opened up Son on my Kindle and settled in for more.

Gwen: Did you finish the good part yet?
Me: Yeah …
Gwen: Are you finished?
Me: Yeah but I’ve started another book.
Gwen: How many books do you need to read in a day?
Me: A book and a half I guess.
Gwen in a stern parent voice: Mo-o-om. Tell the truth.
Me: I’m not lying. I read one book today and now I’ve started another.

She seemed upset by that but couldn’t think of a way to argue since reading is not a bad thing. She tried. She stood there for a couple seconds with the wheels in her mind visibly turning. When nothing came she walked away.

I don’t know that I have ever binge read as much as I have this week. I can’t stop talking about what I have read either. On Wednesday I was so impassioned by my own thoughts I was sharing with Parker that I ended up taking a thyroid pill after dinner instead of a cholesterol pill. I have never accidentally taken two thyroid pills in one day before! The next morning I decided to skip that day’s dose.

When I finished The Giver on Tuesday for the second time I tried to find the movie again. Netflix still didn’t have it. I checked Amazon on my TV and found it for $9.99. Heath happily agreed that I should buy the digital copy. I hated every second of it. He laughed while I kept complaining. Worst movie adaptation of a book I have ever watched. There’s ten bucks down the drain.

When Parker found out how annoyed I was with the movie he said, “I could have told you that!” Apparently even the elementary school grapevine has had unfavorable reviews of the movie. I didn’t know. So then I was mad at myself for buying it after the kids went to bed. Could have saved myself some time and money.

The Giver Quartet books were so good though. The Giver is a fascinating stand alone story. I think even Lois Lowry intended it to be that way. But after so much buzz about her book and the awards, I guess she decided to continue the story. Normally I’m a one and done kind of person. I don’t think it’s necessary to have sequels or trilogies, much less a four book series to tell a story. I have to give her credit though. She did a great job. The stories seem loosely tied together until they all come together in the last book.

There are three dystopian societies between the four books. They are so different you would almost think they are three different worlds. Yet they are in surprisingly close proximity to one another. I like how The Giver community seems like a good idea at first. A little off but you could see where people were going with the sterile environment. I like how in the beginning Lowry sort of lulls you into thinking this is a well planned out community and that it’s a good idea. She slowly reveals the flaws and you root for Jonas to leave. Get away from the cult!

Gathering Blue’s community felt like a completely different time period. I hated the village they lived in. Of course there is the Field where the lowest of the low live in squalor. But even in the “nice” part of the village there was poverty and all the negativity that comes from it. The abuse, the poverty, the imbalance of power, the secrets, I hated all of it. That was kind of a dark story. I kept reading to figure it all out. Things seemed connected and I had to figure out what was going on.

Messenger delved into the magical powers more. That was interesting. Until that point I could almost see these places as real possibilities. The magical powers or gift part of the story gave it a fairy tale quality. In Son you read about yet another village/community. It’s antiquated and simple much like the villages in Gathering Blue.

There was a second village in Gathering Blue made up of misfits and outcasts. For a long time it was almost a utopian society. All were welcome and celebrated for their differences. But all good stories must have conflict so opposition entered in, threatening everything good. That’s what I liked about these different societies. They were all created with a utopian intent. Those good intentions corrupted quickly.

Sameness doesn’t work. Even celebrating the broken can lead to elitism. Herbs don’t heal. They only mask the pain. Education is important but so are colors and emotions. Family is important. People should have choices! The way people were assigned to jobs in the first community seems so dictatorial. Who does that? Um, my community does. Sort of.

I just read a disturbing article about a STEAM preschool in my community that was recently opened. It seems like a lovely idea. Teach math and science at an early age. But at what cost? The article made it clear that these kids are on the fast track toward their future careers. The thought process is that they need to learn these important skills as early as possible to prepare for the competitive job market. They’re in preschool! I thought assigning careers at 12 was young. This is essentially the same thing! The drive to succeed can get a little ridiculous. Where are the choices?

I love that I have a friend who went to a trade school and not college. She didn’t think college was for her. And it wasn’t. It doesn’t have to be for everyone. She became a licensed massage therapist. I know a lot of people that would be happy to benefit from her skillset.

My problem with the STEAM preschool is the fact that parents are paying $1300 a month (I am not making that up) for someone else to teach their children. The kids are learning measurement and fractions by cooking, there are fun and exciting lessons in science and history. Great. Why can’t they do that at home? That’s what my kids did. But then again I don’t believe in preschool.

Obama has spent the last eight years trying to get kids out of the home so mothers are freed up to work outside the home. As if motherhood is not important. Why would it be when you can pay someone else to nurture your children? The shallow, duty driven community of The Giver comes to mind. There were no parents there.

Birthmothers were appointed. They were artificially inseminated to carry “products.” They weren’t even allowed to see the babies born. People applied for spouses then later applied for children. While “families” ate meals together and talked with each other everyone had their own jobs that had nothing to do with each other. Parents worked. Children went to school and volunteered to gain experience for when they were assigned their jobs at the age of 12.

Parents never sacrificed for their children. They never served their children. Meals were delivered by a meal service and taken care of by a cleanup crew. The mundane tasks of life were done by several different jobs. Therefore there was no love. Forget about the pills they all took to curb emotion. Love never had a chance. The closest anyone got to love were those in the various nurturing centers for babies, small children, and the aged. Those workers served others in a way that could lead to love. Though I would bet the duty of it all kept the emotion out of most of it. I believe nannies can love the children they care for but never as much, or in the same way as the real parents. I’m sorry, but if you want to be a parent sacrifice some time for those people you created.

I guess the world I live in isn’t much better than the dystopian societies I have read about this week. Children are often created in Petri dishes and their hours are completely filled with adults who are not their parents. School, sports, arts, etc. Again, why do people want babies so badly if they want someone else to raise those babies?

I think what I love most about dystopian fiction is feeling so passionate about the flaws. It reminds me of what is important to me. The last book ended happily enough but with that sense of wonder. Where does the story go from here? I want to believe that a new society was created. Maybe not that as much as the characters took their collective experiences of what works and doesn’t work and created more of a utopia. I’m sure they appreciated their blessings more.

Don’t we all after our most challenging moments? We yearn for something better then appreciate what we have. There may be many happily ever after moments in life as we continue to better our circumstances. Where does your story go from here?

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