Gathering Blue is categorized as Young Adult fiction, which means that its target readers are adolescents. Many children of various ages have had the experience of losing a parent. The idea that a child must take responsibility for burying their parent may be difficult to accept, but in societies going through a war or epidemic, children often must take on that burden. Lois Lowry clearly establishes at the outset that Kira is living in a very challenging society. While we do not learn the exact nature of the catastrophe that has forced people to live in small, rustic communities, we can readily discern that it was an extreme event. Lowry also introduces another fact that is important to the plot: that Kira has a disability. Her mother was successful in saving her although she was born with different length legs in a society where disability is not allowed. This establishes the kind of loving care with which Kira was raised and which will change following her mother’s death.