The fourth book in Lois Lowry's The Giver series, Son begins at roughly the same time as The Giver but from the viewpoint of Claire, a young birthmother. Claire gives birth to a boy but something goes wrong and she must have a c-section, thus ending her days as a birthmother. She finds herself reassigned to work in the hatchery, but somewhere along the way, she realizes something is odd...she misses the "product" she gave birth to. With just a few clues, Claire is able to track her son down in the newchildren's care giving center--and we, the long time readers, realize it's Gabe, the baby Jonas took with him at the end of The Giver. It's a good way to begin the book Son; it gives us another perspective on the community in the days leading up to Jonas's flight.
Son is mostly about Claire and her years long quest to find Gabe after Jonas leaves with the toddler. Claire winds up in an isolated village, the victim of a shipwreck, and spends a good deal of time training to climb a very steep cliff that will lead her on. Along the way, she is befriended by Einar, a lame young man who also once tried to escape the village, and while there is nothing explicit between them, the reader definitely gets the sense that if Claire stayed, there would be a relationship. Once she completes her mission, she runs into the mysterious Trademaster from The Messenger, who exacts a massive toll to reunite Claire with her son.
There is so much to love in Son but most of all the writing is engulfing and captivating. I experienced Claire's despair and her determination; I could feel the narrowness of the village where she lives, and I lived her loneliness after encountering the Trademaster. The story is obviously allegorical and full of symbolism that will not be lost on long time readers. It's not that the story is action packed or even new in its approach, it's that it flows so well and is so human that we can all identify.
Now, that being said, I did have some problems with the book that were overridden by the wonderful writing style. I understood the need for Claire to train for years but I found it frustrating that the story didn't move along farther in that time period. And I'm still dissecting how I feel about the ending...there didn't seem to be much lead up to the how of what happened, if that makes sense. I get it, really...but that doesn't make it any less abrupt. But overall this book is a fitting ending to a quartet of stories that ignited the fire of today's post-apocalyptic story boom.