The dystopian novel—which began in the first half of the 20th century with George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World—saw a return to popularity in the early 2000s with a spate of young adult literature. Suzanne Collins published The Hunger Games in 2008 and The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, Divergent, by Veronica Roth, and many others quickly followed. In 1993, however, Lois Lowry published a slim volume entitled The Giver, chronicling the life of a young boy in a society that has been stripped of emotional depth. The book won the Newbury Medal the following year and has since sold nearly ten million copies. Lowry eventually wrote three additional books in a loosely linked series: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
Lowry was born in Hawaii, the middle child of an Army dentist who frequently moved the family for work; she attended school in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. Lowry described herself as an introverted child, happy to be alone. Nevertheless, she married at nineteen, dropping out of Brown University, and quickly had four children. While living with them in Maine, she was able to complete her bachelor’s degree and to go on to graduate school. Shortly after, she released her first novel, A Summer to Die, which was loosely based on the death of her sister. Her 1989 novel, Number the Stars, about a young girl escaping Copenhagen during the holocaust, brought her widespread acclaim when it won the Newbury Medal.
Despite her successes, however, Lowry’s life was marked by profound tragedy. She weathered the early death of her sister, as well as those of her second husband, and her middle son, who was killed in the crash of his fighter plane. Lowry has said that her writing sustained her through the difficult times.
Lois Lowry has written dozens of books for children and young adults, as well as a memoir. Even decades since its publication, The Giver remains a well-loved book in elementary schools and beyond.