Book Review – Gifts

Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin

This was not my first Le Guin novel, though I think that it is thus far (out of two mind you) my favorite. It is classified as a juvenile fiction book at my library, but it read more like a YA book to me.

The story is centered around Orrec, a young man who is waiting for his gift, the undoing, which causes things to be unmade, to appear. Orrec lives in the Uplands, a place in the hills where each family has a gift that helps them protect their land and their people. His best friend, Gry, has the gift of calling animals to the hunt. Le Guin’s story is one of tragedy, deceptions, love, and growing up. Do not let the fantasy label deter you from reading this book. The fantasy touch is light and the themes are transcendent.

Gifts is a great read. At 288 pages, juvenile pages mind you, it is also a quick read. The thing I like most about reading Le Guin is that you can be right in the middle of a perfectly ordinary, but good, description of something and suddenly you will stumble upon a beautiful sentence. A sentence whose very craftsmanship causes you to go back and reread it over again, to prolong the taste of it on your tongue. Gifts is a delightful book full of robust themes for such a small novel.

Recommended, even for those who are not already fans of Le Guin or fantasy