Book Review: Gossamer by Lois Lowry

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Have you ever wondered where dreams come from? It’s a question that scholars have been trying to answer for years.

Scientists agree that dreams occur during the fourth state of sleep, known as REM [rapid eye movement]sleep, but are not sure why. Many theories agree that dreams were manifestations of the unconscious mind. Perhaps dreaming is a method of sorting out daily difficulties. Maybe it’s a method for your short-term memories to be converted into long-term memories. Various religious groups believe that dreams are special messages sent directly to us from God or Allah. Young adult and children’s author Lois Lowry offers a unique theory, incorporating some of these ideas, in her fantasy novel, Gossamer.

Every night when we go to sleep, small human-like creatures stealthily move about our homes, gently fingering our personal belongings, to collect fragments of memories attached to each item. They are story-collectors. Then when we have finally fallen asleep, these small fragments of stories are bestowed upon us through a shimmering breath in our ears.

Their adversaries are known as the sinisteeds, who force upon us our nightmares. Often they work alone, but when they sense some serious vulnerability, they come in galloping Hordes to torture us with our deepest fears. They attack night after night in recurrences. It is the job of the dream-givers to strengthen us with happy memories to defend against the bad.

The duties of the dream-givers are taught to us as Littlest One receives her education from Thin Elderly and Most Ancient. She learns her trade and literally solidifies herself as they try to help two people via their dreams. Most important is an abused little boy named John, who is sent to live with an elderly woman whose lonely family until now has been her dog Toby. Meanwhile, another dream-giver named Strapping is helping John’s mother get her life back together through dreams of a future reunited with her beloved son.

This story is just as beautiful and delicate as its title suggests. Even as an adult, I am comforted to think that there is some kind of gentle creature who is looking out for me, trying to ward off the nightmares. It makes me feel like a young girl, believing in fairies again. It reminds me once again of how impressionable youngsters are and how important it is for us to guide them in the right direction. And it reminds us of the difficulties that many children face today.

Lois Lowry is an important author in today’s society. Her stories, though primarily written for children and young adults, can also speak to adults and teach them just as many important lessons. Therefore, I recommend this book to both the young and the young-at-heart, and I wish you pleasant dreams.

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