Gifts, Ursula Le Guin, Harcourt Inc, 2004, 274 pp
Continuing a week of reading Young Adult fiction, I read Gifts. Ursula Le Guin is a favorite writer of mine for several reasons. One reason is that she takes the world as we know it with its wars and inhumanity and morphs it into a fantastical faraway place where she creates stories of other possible ways for mankind to co-exist. Gifts does not disappoint with its tales of special abilities which are used for harm but could be used constructively.
Because of the potential for destruction two young people, a boy and a girl who have been friends since birth, decide not to use their gifts. Fraught with consequences, this decision brings them grief, alienation and uncertainty as they grow in insight and strength. The mood of the story is thus tense and full of sorrow.
My only difficulty was keeping track of the areas, clans and individuals. A map would have helped immensely. As always, Le Guin's writing is perfectly tuned to the story and location. She has a way of carrying you through the harshness and bleak emotions with writing so beautiful that it protects you and delivers you to the denouement safe from any lasting harm. There you are at the end with the hero and heroine, at peace with all the lessons learned.