Sunday, December 24, 2006

Gossamer - Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry's Gossamer is the first of Lowry's books that I have read.

Gossamer tells the story of a group of mythical beings who are responsible for creating and distributing dreams to humans. Each being is responsible for a particular household, and assigned to the households by their leader, Most Ancient. The beings create the dreams after finding out about the residents by lightly touching different objects in a house: these include clothing, photographs, ornaments, etc. that contain significant memories for the owners. After they have gathered enough meaningful fragments, the dream-givers then combine the fragments into a story to bestow a dream. But the dream-weaving beings are not the only ones to operate in this manner. There are also nightmare-givers, the Sinisteeds, who have four legs and hot, angry breath. They belong to the Horde and they often band together in a group in order to flood their victims' subconscious with dark and miserable thoughts. If enough nightmares are inflicted upon an individual, their waking hours become increasingly negative and damaging until they can no longer remember how to be happy and at peace. In this agitated state, they are a great risk to those around them and to society as a whole.

In addition to providing an imaginative explanation as to where dreams and nightmares come from, Gossamer also tells the story of an angry 8 year old boy and a lonely older woman who are brought together when John has been taken away from his mother by Social Services because his father beats him and his mother, and is fostered with the older woman, who is on her own because her soldier husband died and she is now retired. Her main companion is her dog Toby. The bond that forms between the woman, John and Toby is subtle yet full of feeling. The story is also told from the point of view of John's mother, who's struggling to get back on her feet after her husband leaves for California, and from the point of view of Littlest One, the newest and youngest of the dream-givers who is nevertheless very talented at combining fragments and creating dreams, and has a gossamer touch.

Gossamer is also available from

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