Thursday, April 10, 2014
Messenger, Lois Lowry
SUPER fast read, I read it in a day, it's under 200 pages.
This story takes Matt-now Matty as protagonist. He is now living in Village instead of his birthplace (where Kira is still at) with Seer, a blind man. Apparently, Forest is not friendly to everyone and it has a life of its own. And a mind of its own too. It has been known to give Warnings to people-roots or sticks or rocks actually moving of their own accord to hit, trip or poke someone. If you get a Warning, you NEVER go back into Forest because Forest will strangle unwelcome people. Matty has never had a Warning and seems to be able to have a natural ability to navigate through Forest, and thus he becomes a messenger for Leader (the leader of the village) whenever communication is required.
Village is a great place to live, everyone helps everyone else, handicaps are revered and accepted. This is a town built of rejects from other harsh societies. However, something has been happening to change the people. The Trade Market is no longer a market where goods are traded back and forth so much, but people trade themselves for things or favors. I honestly think this doesn't mean prostitution in any way, but you are never truly sure. The only explanation is that they "trade their deepest self" which might be akin to "selling your soul"? Perhaps? It creates fighting and unwelcome attitudes. In fact, a group of people want to close the borders to Village and not allow anyone else to come in and be a part of their society.
So I wasn't sure if this was going to be an anti-immigration plot, which I suppose many could read it as such-and let me go on record here, I am NOT and never have been against immigration. I AM however, against ILLEGAL immigration. I understand we have a desirable country and things, but please do things right and be here legally. If I wanted to live in any other country, I'd have to have the necessary Visa's and paperwork and if I wanted to become a citizen of another country, I'd have to go through legal processes to do so. I expect to be required to do those things or be deported, so I expect people to be respectful of that here as well.
Anyhow, I don't think it was necessarily an anti-immigration plot, but an anti-SELFISHNESS plot. As the people grew more and more unwelcoming, so did Forest. It was proportionately more dangerous in relation to how the people viewed and treated one another. The people began to be vain, valuing physical appearances. People traded away pieces of themselves in exchange for their handicaps or deformations or birthmarks to disappear in order to catch others attentions or to be "better" when reality is who you are in on the inside and how you treat others is of greater worth. One family trades something unknown to get a Gaming Machine. Basically it's like a slot machine but instead of money, when your symbols match, you get a piece of candy. Getting things creates greed for MORE things, so much so that parents stop treating their children with love and care and treating them like an irritant or burden. This book was published in 2004 and I can definitely say that the themes resound with our society-and any first world society at that.
Matty has a gift that can heal, and in order to heal the people, he heals the Earth. I'm not sure what the message there is, maybe the Earth is more willing to be healed? Maybe how we treat Earth has a direct correlation with how we treat humanity? Or just that everything in our eco-system is intertwined in a way we can't even comprehend. So I'm not sure what the author intended for us to take from that. But the ending for me was quite unexpected, rather abrupt, and I'm still in shock. There is an ultimate sacrifice. I was ok with that type of sacrifice at the end of another book.....but with this one, I didn't. I really didn't. BUT, it can be a bit metaphoric from a Christian stand point. Christ shouldn't have had to pay an ultimate sacrifice, it wasn't fair, he wasn't part of the problem, but He did. Why? So He could heal us. He could help us turn ourselves around to learn to be kind to ALL of His creations. So maybe that's the lesson I can bring away from it.
One thing that bothered me quite a bit, though: ****SPOILER ALERT*****
Leader is Jonas from The Giver. It is obvious by his blue eyes, and by the story that he came to Village as a boy on a red sled which is displayed and revered. BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BABY?? Gabriel, or Gabe, I think they called him. Jonas smuggled him out to prevent him from being Released. But we NEVER hear of him in this entire book! That bugs me. And I'm not entirely sure that the final book in the quartet is going to mention him at all either, because you're back in Jonas' old community and the protagonist is a Birthmother who-against the rules-becomes attached to her son. So I'm not sure, but I've got it on hold at the library and we shall see.