When I read The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger, I thought it was a trilogy. I had thought the story to be pretty well wrapped up at the end of Messenger, to be honest. I was more than happy, nevertheless, to find out I was wrong. Not only am I a big fan of Lois Lowry, but I have a major weakness for dystopias!
This story begins in the same society as The Giver, but Jonah is not the main character. Instead, we see the society through the eyes of a young girl named Clair. We are with Clair as she gets her work assignment — to be a birthmother — and also when the delivery of the “product” she was carrying goes wrong and results in a Cesarean. Although she is made to wear a mask and can’t see the baby, she manages to find out that her baby, #36, was a boy. A son. Her love and longing for her son is unheard of in that society, so she has to pretend not to think about him and can never admit that she dreams about being able to raise him as her own. I can’t say much more without major spoilers, but rest assured that this tale will reunite characters from all of the books in the series while demonstrating the lengths to which a mother will go for her child.
I thought, for some reason, that this book would have some sort of tie-in to The Giver, Gathering Blue, and The Messenger. Apparently, I was wrong. That’s ok, though, since this was a great story in and of itself.
The story starts off with Littlest and Fastidious (two dream givers) in the house of an old woman and her dog, Toby. Littlest is just learning how to gather memories from a being’s belongings and to bestow them in the form of dreams. Fastidious is not the best teacher, since she is rather easily annoyed by the youngest dream giver, and Thin Eldest soon becomes Littlest’s new teacher. Around the same time, a new boy (John) moves into the house of the old woman. John is the old woman’s foster child, but she shows him as much love and compassion as any child could want or expect from a biological parent or grandparent. As the story progresses, readers learn about John’s home life (before foster care), and it becomes quite clear why he does not know how to trust anyone.
Through dreams (from Littlest) and love (from the old woman and Toby), John starts to become more trusting and happier in general. Unfortunately, the Sinisteeds (nightmare givers) have decided that they are going to start visiting John in his sleep as well. Will Littlest and Thin Elderly be able to reverse the damage of these bad dreams when the Sinisteeds leave? Will the old woman still be able to help John after his nightmares tear away at the progress he has made? Read this book to find out for yourself.