Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Number of Pages: 144
This book ended up being kind of a trip down memory lane for me; even though I had never read it before I used to love Lois Lowry’s books when I was a kid. There’s something fulfilling about reading an unfamiliar book by a childhood favorite, and I had thought the premise of Gossamer sounded cool for a long time. I categorized this novel’s genre as fantasy to keep things fairly simple but it would perhaps be more accurately described as ‘magical realism.’
It’s a pretty straightforward story with only a couple of characters to keep track of. Littlest One is an apprentice dream-bearer, she and the elder who is training her routinely visit an older woman’s home to bestow comforting dreams upon her for the sake of peaceful sleep cycles and mental well-being.
The woman is extremely lonely with only her dog for company, and she decides to take in an abused foster child with a host of anger management problems. The boy’s name is John and he’s filled with emotional pain from the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, he complicates the dream creature’s jobs but Littlest One and her mentor grow to care deeply for him.
Meanwhile the antithesis of Littlest One’s tribe of benevolent helpers, the Sinisteed, are on the prowl and are seeking to destroy the good work that has improved the lives of the woman and the boy. Overall the characters in this book aren’t incredibly complex but I still found myself rooting for them to overcome their individual traumas. My favorite part of the story was probably the dream-giving process itself and how the creatures absorbed energy from objects that had emotional significance for the people and used them to orchestrate a good dream.
It was an intensive process with a lot of room for error, like they were psychically preparing a film for their viewer. I found it a little implausible that a woman with no experience with children would choose to keep making the effort with John, who almost immediately displayed the potential to be a really sick puppy in the making. I liked the way John’s improving mental health was gradual, he got a second chance but a caring foster mother and Littlest One’s intervention aren’t a cure-all as much as a step in the right direction.
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