“And you know what, Thin Elderly? Sad parts are important. If I ever get to train a new young dream-giver, that’s one of the things I’ll teach: that you must include the sad parts, because they are part of the story, and they have to be part of the dreams.”
-Lois Lowry, Gossamer
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Gossamer interweaves the stories of the dream-givers and those to whom they give dreams each night. The story opens with an older dream-giver named Fastidious training the Littlest One. They give pleasant, happy dreams to an older, unmarried woman whose only companion is her dog Toby.
Soon, this woman takes in a foster child, an angry eight-year-old named John. John requires a lot of strengthening to battle the nightmares imposed by the Sinisteeds, the counterparts to the dream-givers. John’s anger stems from his parents divorce and his father’s abuse, and through the good dreams bestowed upon him, he becomes a happier child.
This book is beautiful in that Lowry understands the power of a story. The way that the dream-givers bestow dreams is through touching items in the person’s home. They gather fragments of each person’s story, both happy and sad memories. They use these fragments to provide dreams. Through the dreams, the reader learns more about each person’s story. For example, the woman never married because the man she loved was a soldier who was killed in France during the war. The memory of this man causes her to smile in her sleep.
Furthermore, the language that Lowry uses is wonderful. Littlest One comes to be known for her light touch–her gossamer touch. She gathers memories through the slightest touch, which allows her to touch living creatures, such as the dog and a butterfly, without disturbing their slumber. It’s fitting that at the end of the novel, when Littlest is finished with her training and a new littlest arrives, she is given the name Gossamer.
Moreover, the subtlety of language makes this book powerful. The dream-givers provide dreams by bestowing them upon sleeping human. The connotation of that word implies that good dream are a gift. Conversely, the Sinisteeds–dark, angry, horse-like creatures–inflict their nightmares upon the humans. The experience is painful and harsh, but the dream-givers fight the Sinisteeds through bestowing courageous dreams that the subconscious uses to fight against the pain.
All in all, this short novel is a beautiful piece of work, just like everything else Lois Lowry writes. She’s pretty much a genius. 🙂