Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Giver Trilogy by Lois Lowry

The Giver Certainly the most well known of the three titles, this Newbery Medal winner tells the story of Jonas and his community. Jonas has been selected, not assigned like his classmates, for his new occupation. He is the new Receiver of Memory. Jonas’ futuristic community has eliminated all problems. There is no hunger, sickness, conflict, or inequality. Families stay together. Elders are respected. But Jonas, working with the old Receiver of Memory, now called the Giver as Jonas is the Receiver, learns about the past as he receives memories. He learns the price that has been paid for the community’s perfection. Jonas and the Giver devise a plan that, if successful, will save lives and possibly give back to the community some of what it has missed for many years. Truly a classic upon its release, The Giver is an unforgettable novel not to be missed.

Gathering Blue The second novel of the trilogy takes place at roughly the same time as The Giver but in another community. Kira is orphaned at the beginning of the story. She has a bad leg, one that prevents her from walking comfortably or quickly, and that brings scorn on her from a community that values strength. Fortunately she has incredible talent with thread – dying, stitching, embroidering – which saves her, and even exalts her to a position of great honor in the community. Two others children, a carver named Thomas and a young singer named Jo, have received the same honor. As Kira learns about the secrets behind her community and her past, and as young Matt helps her search for the elusive color blue, she and her friends devise a plan, similar to Jonas, that will help their community.

Messenger Six years after the events of The Giver and Gathering Blue, Kira’s young friend Matt, has grown nearly to adulthood. He lives in Village, a third community that welcomes all strangers, regardless of perceived strength or weakness, and lives a peaceful existence. But changes are coming to Village. Worthy, positive characteristics now receive lesser value and differences never before seen as weaknesses are now dividing the community. Matty, longing to learn his true name and his blind guardian, whose true name is Seer, try to understand what is happening and find a way to save Village. Characters from both previous novels play prominent roles in Messenger, and the story started in The Giver comes to a gratifying conclusion.

While these titles certainly aren't light-hearted, readers can't help but escape inside. New communities and villages and cultures and belief systems are created so carefully that readers understand everything that the main characters struggle against. There's death and injustice. Characters - society's leaders - make incomprehensible decisions, but yet readers understand why they were made in the context of the story. That doesn't mean readers agree with the decisions, however, and they will fight along with the Jonas, Kira, and Matty in their efforts to bring change where change is so desperately needed. Most importantly, readers will think.

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