In Messenger, Lois Lowry’s third book in The Giver quartet, Matty is a young teen in a utopian community simply called Village. Jonas, the main character in The Giver and Village’s Leader, worries about the fate of their peaceful existence. The evil Trade Master has come on the scene, inviting the citizens to participate in Trade Mart, where people trade away their good qualities and characteristics for trinkets, material possessions, and vain pursuits. The result is a decline in the morality of the community.
Matty, though young, can see these changes in the people. He lives with Seer, a wise old blind man. Village has always been known as a place of refuge, a safe haven where anyone is welcome to come live. But when selfishness invades the villagers, they decide they should build a wall and keep the foreigners out. Seer’s daughter, Kira, the main character in Gathering Blue, lives in a distant town on the other side of Forest. She has always said she would join Matty and her father in Village “when the time was right.” Now Matty must go to her and implore her to move to Village immediately, before it is too late.
Matty is known to Villagers as the unofficial “messenger.” Forest, a dark and dangerous place to most people, has always been friendly and accommodating to Matty, so he is designated as the one to travel between communities and carry news. But recently, Forest has grown sinister, even to Matty. The journey is treacherous. Matty and Kira are nearly destroyed by Forest. But Leader, Matty, and Kira all have unique gifts. Leader can see “beyond” his own present circumstances. Kira, through the intricate tapestries she weaves, can see the future. Matty has the ability to heal. In the end, Matty uses his gift to save others and makes the ultimate sacrifice.
Messenger is a wonderful well-written story, beautifully illustrating what can happen when people lose their moral compass and focus more on themselves than the good of others. I understood why sickness and sadness came into the community. What confused me was why Forest changed and became evil. It seemed to be a separate entity from Village, and I was unsure as to why it became angry towards Matty, who remained good throughout the story. That thought aside, I recommend this book to Lois Lowry fans and readers of middle grade fiction.