Looking Back: A Book of Memories

“I would like to introduce you to this book. It has no plot. It is about moments, memories, fragments, falsehoods, and fantasies. It is about things that happened, which caused other things to happen, so that eventually stories emerged.”

Lois Lowry’s book of memories for young and old is filled with beautiful photographs and beautiful words. Looking Back: A Book of Memories, is a book full of short, poignantly described, memories — each memory starting with a quote from one of Lowry’s own books, and a photograph from her family collection. Each photograph works as inspiration for as well as illustration of the memory.

Through these memories, Lowry shares her life’s journey, the ups and downs of growing up, and the joys and losses of both her childhood and her adult years. The stories also reveal the heart of a writer, and give you insight into the process of memory and art.

The book begins and ends with quotes from The Giver, which is a book I have loved and taught for many years. The “Giver” in Lowry’s imagined dystopia, holds the memories of centuries for the Community. In a very poetic statement at the end of the book, Lowry says:

“I have come to believe that all of us, as we write, or read, or draw …
as we hold the pages of a book tilted so that a little one can see …
as we choose and wrap a book as a gift for a child …
as we provide privacy and a comfortable chair, or a favorite book on a table beside a guest room bed …
as we sift through memories, sort them out and see their meaning …
and as we look back, and say to a child, “I remember –“
we do, in fact, hold the knowledge of centuries.
And we all become Givers.”

This is my first book read for Joy’s Non-Fiction Five reading challenge. It was a beautiful, poignant read and I highly recommend it.

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7 thoughts on “Looking Back: A Book of Memories

  1. Bookfool

    Oh, everyone else is using the same word I was planning to use — well, it does sound lovely. 🙂

    Odd timing, as my friend Mike just told me he knew Lois Lowry when she was Lois Hammersburg and they both lived in Japan. Her name came up because I read The Giver, earlier this year, and had sent him a list of the books I’ve read in 2008. I love those weird little connections, don’t you?

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  2. Robin

    That’s an amazing connection, Bookfool! I read something that she wrote (it’s not in Looking Back so it must have been on her blog) about meeting a man recently who turned out to be a boy she had met in Japan many years ago. I’ve been trying to find that story, to see if it might be your friend, Mike. Now wouldn’t THAT be incredible!! I’ll keep looking for it!

    Lois Lowry’s blog:
    http://loislowry.typepad.com/lowry_updates/

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  3. Juliann in WA

    I am definately going to look for this book. I have so enjoyed Lowry’s writing and loved reading The Giver with my daughters. Thanks for the review.

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  4. Robin

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, Juliann. I love Lois Lowry’s writing, too. She’s a wonderful author and such an interesting person to “get to know” through her books, interviews, and her blog.

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