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Cambridge’s Lois Lowry, architect of the original young adult dystopia

BRIDGTON, Maine — Two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry did not set out to be a trailblazer when she published “The Giver” in 1993. But without “The Giver,” there would be no “Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins or “Matched” series by Ally Condie. “The Giver” is a precursor to these bestsellers and others in so many ways. It was a dystopian novel for young readers before post-apocalyptic settings became a trend; a title with adult appeal before parents started unabashedly perusing the teen sections of libraries; and beautifully written exploration of human connection when many thought children were not ready for such depth. Lowry, who has penned more than 40 picture books and novels, did not set out to become famous, but she has become just that — and no one is more surprised than she.

“People are starting to refer to ‘The Giver’ as a classic, but I don’t know how that is defined,” she says, leaning forward slightly out of a white wicker chair on the porch of her summer home in Bridgton, as if she could jump up at any moment. “But if it means that 10, 20, 50 years from now kids will still be reading it, that is kind of awe-inspiring.”

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