Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger by Lois Lowry.

In another return to my youth in the month of November, I decided to reread a book and its two companion novels that has had a large impact on me as a person. The Giver remains one of my all-time favorite novels, even after this reread. You would think that after all of the great classic literature I've been reading that it would somehow begin to pale in comparison.

It didn't.

I have already reviewed this novel as part of my "Thursday Treats" feature, and you can find that review here, but I still have more to add.

Jonas is turning 12 and like all the other members of his society, he will be given a role to fulfill. When the time comes, however, he is given a special role, that of the Receiver. It will be his job to take on the memories of the past-of war, snow, colors, pain, and real family-so that his community will not have to.

This time around, I will still incredibly moved by Jonas' story. After all, he is only a 12 year old boy and he is faced with a world that he begins to question. I was reminded how much I love Lowry's way of letting the story speak for itself. And the open ending still made perfect sense.

I think that no matter what I read, or often I reread this novel, that it will remain a cherished friend. It moves me every time I read it and I cannot recommend it enough.

I remember that when Lowry released the first companion novel, Gathering Blue, people were outraged. Some felt it was taking away from the power of The Giver and others wanted more answers.

I always viewed it as a separate entity, which is why I recommend both companions as much as I recommend The Giver.

In Gathering Blue, we are introduced to another young person, Kira, and her society. Like Jonas' community, Kira lives in a place that is highly regulated. Those with deformities are killed and it is only by her mother's love that she is saved. Kira, born with a twisted and malformed leg, must battle the society around her for her entire life. As something less than perfect, she must work harder.

She is eventually taken in by the Guardians and given a task, to fix the woven robe that the Singer wears each Gathering. The Singer tells the tale of human history-the suffering, wars, and peaceful times-to remind those in the community of what was.

Like Jonas, Kira begins to realize that her world is not perfect and there are many things that need to be fixed. In the end, she decides to stay behind in her community to help fix it and who the people living there that there is another way to live.

To be honest, Gathering Blue is my least favorite of the trilogy and mainly because unlike the other two main characters, Kira doesn't seem to make as big of a sacrifice to fix her world. I would say more, but I don't want to ruin it for you. But don't let that statement take away from the fact that this is still a powerful little novel in its own right. It gives us another take on what may happen in the future.

The final book in the trilogy is Messenger. In this final chapter of the set, Matty lives in a village that is a safe haven for those escaping other communities. Matty had escaped years earlier from Kira's village and lives in safety.

Surrounding the village is the forest and Matty is one of the few who can navigate its twisting paths. After the people of his village begin to change and determine to close the borders of their village forever, Matty is sent to fetch Kira and post warnings in the forest to those who are seeing safety.

On his way home, Matty has to make decisions about what he is willing to do to save the people who took him in, and what he is willing to give up.

The first time I read this novel, I bawled like a baby. That NEVER happens to me, so that should tell you how emotionally draining this novel was. The last few chapters are so packed with emotion and tough decisions that they get me every single time.

I love Matty. He is the perfect, unselfish character and the strength he has always warms my heart. He struggles his entire life to find happiness and eventually gets there.

I am grateful I read this again. They moved me just as much on this reread as they did before and I cannot tell you how much I want to place a copy of each of these novels into your hands. And if you do decide to read them, I hope you love them and cherish their strength just as much as I do.


  1. I read these three in 2008-2009 and really loved them. The Giver ended on such an ambiguous note that I was glad to have the other two, though like you, Gathering Blue was my least favorite. I thought Messenger ended perfectly!

  2. I love these books also. I don't remember specifically if I cried, but knowing me, I probably did!

  3. I'll have to see if I can find these. I've been wanting to read the The Giver but I didn't realize that there were other books. I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry when I was in elementary school and it was one of my favorite books. I've been wanting to read something else by her.

  4. I loved all three as well. I agree that the companion novels didn't detract from the original, because I saw them as novels in their own right. Last year I had the chance to hear Lowry speak and see a play version of The Giver and it reminded me how much I loved these books.

  5. I loved The Giver when I read it years ago and I've read it again a time or two. I had heard of the follow-ups but I haven't gotten to them yet. Thanks for reminding me of these books.

  6. I just read The Giver for the first time and LOVED it! I will have to try to find these other tow!

  7. I read The Giver so long ago that I can't even remember a single thing about it. I'm going to have to read it again, I think, as everyone seems to have loved it!

  8. I really enjoyed THE GIVER when I was younger but have never read the others. I'll do so, though I'll make sure to treat them as separate entities. I remember really liking Jonas' story!

  9. I read The Giver in elementary school in "gifted class". I always hated the name of the class btw, but i'm so glad i was chosen to be in it or i never would have been introduced to the story. It is, to this day, one of my top 3 books (To Kill a Mockingbird is #1). I have told so many people about The Giver and have tried my best to do it justice with my "review", but i've never been able to. It's a story that must be read to appreciate in any way. Now, as a 24yr old mother of two, I just saw the "The Giver Set" in one of those schoolastic book order forms. I had no idea that there were two more after (actually now, a 4th. The Son was just released i believe). My oldest is only 5 and too young for the book but im ordering the set. I have raved about the Giver for years & have always talked about reading it again. Now i.get to, and i get to read its companions. Dont be put off by the fact that this is a "childrens book". I cant imagine anyone, at any age, reading this book & disliking it. Its wonderful! I recommend it to all! I cant speak of the companions until i've read them but if they are even half as good as the first, then they will be amazing.