A Book Review: Son

Son is the fourth book of Lois Lowry’s The Giver Quartet. It unfolds the conclusion of the stories of the main characters-- Jonas, Gabe, Kira, Matty, and Claire-- who possess gifts that they use to save their community. The cause of the ruins was revealed in the end; love saved them from evil. Son is divided into three books; the first book has sixteen chapters; the second has sixteen; and the third has thirteen. It was published 8 years after Messenger.  

The focal point of the story was Claire, the birthmother who brought forth Gabe, the baby whom Jonas saved from being put to death in the first book. 

In Book 1, the life of Claire in the Community is told. Her delivery was not easy because her womb was cut open to save the baby. Due to this complication, she was decertified as a birthmother and assigned to be a Fish Hatchery Attendant. 

While performing her boring tasks, Claire felt emotions of longing to be with her child. It was a strange feeling for her and she later realized the effect of not taking pills that numbed emotions. Out of her eagerness,  she managed to stay under the radar bonding with her son at the Nurturing Center as a volunteer. When she learned that her son was not able to reach developmental milestones and that he would be “released”, she was devastated. She was even more wrecked when her son was taken by Jonas who ran away from the community. Everything seemed to be happening so fast that she found herself on a supply boat that hailed from another community. The woman on the boat told her that they would go to Elsewhere to find her son. Unfortunately, a storm came. Claire, the boatmen,  and the women were shipwrecked. 

Book 2 opens with Claire being found on the beach, almost dead. She was saved by the people, especially Alys, an elderly woman, who took care of her until she got her health back. Claire was getting stronger physically but she forgot a big part of herself- her history and her son. 

Little by little, Claire’s memories came back to her including her having a son. What pushed her more to look for her child and leave the village was how the people saw her as a stained woman. It was found out that she had a son without a husband and this marked her as someone who was not worth marrying.  With the help of Lame Einar, a young man who attempted to leave the village by climbing a cliff to get to the other side, Claire became strong enough to scale the cliff and prepared enough to face the Trademaster. Lame Einar was maimed by the Trademaster after the former refused to trade with the latter.  


The time came when Claire had to climb the cliff. Despite the difficulties, she was able to reach the top where the Trademaster was standing. Many times, Claire told him that she had nothing with a value that she could trade. The Trademaster disagreed. When he mentioned her son, Claire had no choice but to trade her youth. The moment she said the trade was done, Clare turned into an old hag.  

In the last book, Claire found Gabe in the village of the healing where Jonas was the leader. He married Kira, the threader in Gathering Blue. They had two children, Annabelle and Matthew. 

Claire had been watching his son from afar who was building a boat; Gabe noticed her. Annoyed, he promised himself to approach the old woman and tell him to stop what she had been doing. Little did he know that Claire was her mother. He only found it out when Jonas told him about who Claire was and what happened to her after her encounter with the Trademaster. Gabe was confused but the truth eventually sank in--- Claire was his mother and she’s dying of old age. There was one and only way to bring her life back, destroy the Trademaster. 


Disappointed. That was how I felt after reading the ending of the book, Son. When I reached the last page,  I remembered that the target audience of the novel was middle school students, which may be the reason why the plot was simple.  The way the protagonist defeated the villain was underwhelming. I understand that introducing complicated issues affecting humans such as war, hatred, adolescent pregnancy, defying authorities, social justice, and censorship to young people can be challenging and Lowry's The Giver Quartet is a good material as a springboard of discussion among young people. But then, I felt the ending needed more excitement and more satisfaction with the story.  The other three books, The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger are more engaging and interesting.

Discussion Questions

1. What is a birthmother?

2. Describe Claire. 

3. Why was she sent to the Fish Hatchery?

4. How do you feel about her job as a Fish Hatchery Attendant?

5. What pulled Claire to visit the Nurturing Center?

6. Why do you think she wasn’t caught as the mother of one of the babies at the Nurturing Center?

7. Describe what happened to Claire when she learned that Jonas had taken her son away. 

8. How different was the village Claire lived in while she was recuperating?

9. Claire was thought to be a stained woman. Explain how the village people treat her. 

10. Which part of the story was humorous? Why?

11. Describe Gabe.

12. Why did he build a boat?

13. If you were Gabe, how would you react when Jonas revealed that Claire was your mother?

14. What was the role of the Trademaster in the ruins?

15. What do you think of the ending of the novel? How would you end the story?

Further Information

Title: Son

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (October 2, 2012)

Publication Date: October 2, 2012

Print length: 402 pages

ASIN: B008454X2Y