"Gathering Blue" by Lois Lowry, Chapters 1-5

February 16, 2015
In Kira's village, those who are weak or disabled are usually abandoned and left to die. Lame in one leg, Kira is saved only because the village's Council of Elders wishes to exploit her gift for weaving.

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If she could find help, though help was unlikely, it wouldn’t take long to build a cott, especially not this time of year, summer-start, when tree limbs were supple and mud was thick and abundant beside the river.
Don’t forget that you are still a girl, and often willful, and just this morning, Kira, you forgot to tidy the cott even though you had promised.
For everyday work, Kira helped in the weaving shed, picking up the scraps and leavings, but her twisted leg diminished her value as a laborer and even, in the future, as a mate.
The cadence of bickering was a constant sound in the village: the harsh remarks of men vying for power; the shrill bragging and taunting of women envious of one another and irritable with the tykes who whined and whimpered at their feet and were frequently kicked out of the way.
In order to pen their disobedient toddlers and chickens, the women would turn her out of the village to be devoured by the beasts that waited in the woods to forage the Field.
He shifted the twigs in his hands, and Kira could see that he was reluctant to get involved in her problems and fearful of his own fate.
Perhaps the simple fact of seeing her there at work would deter the women who hoped to drive her away.
Here and there, people acknowledged her presence with a curt nod; but they were busy, all of them at their daily work, and pleasantries were not part of their custom.
The boy Dan glanced at Kira but made no sign of greeting or recognition; he was cringing from his father’s slap.
Laughing contemptuously, the woman sauntered away, her hands filled with dirt-encrusted carrots.
pile of saplings stripped of their branches was arranged, as if someone had been preparing to help her rebuild
The ragged scar that marked her chin and continued down her neck to her broad shoulder was said to be a remnant of a long-ago battle with one of the forest creatures.
No one else had ever survived such a clawing, and the scar reminded everyone of Vandara's courage and vigor as well as her malevolence.
“If there is a death . . .” she heard a woman repeat in an uncertain, apprehensive voice.
One woman was soon to give birth; perhaps that would happen tonight, and the others would attend her, muffling her cries and assessing the value of the infant.
She could barter with him, maybe offering to decorate a fabric for his wife, in exchange for the beams she would need.
Some remaining windows, ones in which the colored glass had shattered, were now paned in a thick, ordinary glass that distorted the view through bubbles and ripples.
Quickly, remembering the procedure that she had seen at every ceremony, Kira arranged her hands in a reverent position, cupped together, fingertips below her chin, as she arrived at the table and looked respectfully toward the Worship-object on the stage.
Vandara oozed compliments designed to strengthen her case, and Kira glanced at the chief guardian to see if he was swayed by the flattery.
She takes up space, and food, and she causes problems with the discipline of the tykes, telling them stories, teaching them games so that they make noise and disrupt the work —
He was still a boy, no older than Kira herself, but already he had been singled out for his great gifts, and the carvings that came from his skilled hands were much in demand among the elite of the village.
She heard Jamison repeat the words of her thoughts as if they had been audible.
Why did she have to do this in front of them, to submit to their humiliating stares?
But she could still hear Vandara’s voice, shrill with vindictive accusation: “She eats a lot.”
Fearful of the consequences if she showed her ravenous hunger, Kira willed herself to nibble at the tempting meal.
Again the guardian who was her defender reiterated that exceptions could be made.
Kira always stood at her mother's side, never touching the fragile ancient cloth, marveling each time at the rich hues that told the history of the world.
Kira remembered that spot, where just last year some threads had pulled and torn and her mother had carefully coaxed the broken threads free.
She wrested her arms free of the guards’ grasp and faced the Council of Guardians.
It had been a useless stray, underfoot, scavenging everywhere for food.
Kira reached down and scratched the homely mongrel behind his ear.
He scampered to the steps of the Edifice and stalked down them, face haughty.
I filched ’em from your cott before the burning.
Smiling, Kira watched him go, his thin, scabbed legs churning in the dusty path as he ran to join his friends.
The tyke smirked, chewing eagerly at whatever he had picked up from the path.

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