Messenger by Lois Lowry.

At this point, I think it’s kind of silly to mention my fondness for Lois Lowry, but c’est la vie, no? In spite of that affection, I had never, for some odd reason, read Messenger, the third and final installment to the The Giver/Gathering Blue/Messenger trilogy. It’s going to be tricky, determining how to provide a synopsis for Messenger without giving away anything related to The Giver and Gathering Blue, but here we go…

While the books all take place in the same unspecific future, each of the three is set in a different village. With The Giver, Lowry introduces us to twelve-year-old Jonas and his perfect, Utopian society; Gathering Blue is centered on handicapped Kira, who is living the exact opposite conditions. Though both Jonas and Kira make appearances in Messenger, the story’s focus is young Matty, a brash boy eager to learn his place in the world. For the moment, his role is that of a message-bearer — hence the novel’s title — ferrying communiqués to nearby communities.

Lowry writes with typical economy of language, covering themes ranging from the desire of material possessions, xenophobia and selflessness. She also refuses to shy away from difficult topics such as pain and death, which is a huge reason why The Giver is on so many banned book lists. In Messenger, Lowry also does something incredibly rare in young adult fiction… and I’m sorry, but I simply can’t say what it is. You’ll just have to read the book, though I suggest starting with The Giver. Though slim, it and its companion novels are wonderful reads.