We meet Claire, who was selected at 12 to be a birth mother, and at 14 she is getting ready to "produce" her first "product." The stark language and descriptions add to our horror as we journey through the birth, which goes wrong, and Claire's subsequent shunning from the job of birth mother. We journey with her as she grieves for her loss, realizes who she is, and determines to find the child that was literally ripped from her womb. Lovers of Gathering Blue and The Messenger will enjoy the closure of this novel, but fans of The Giver will probably leave wanting more.
This isn't to say I didn't enjoy the book, or that I didn't read it with vigor. I was just very disappointed, because I wanted closure of my story, the story of the Giver. For the first third of the book I waited in breathless anticipation for some clue as to what happened to the community, Jonas' family, and the Giver. Would Jonas leaving force them to change their ways? Would the Giver die and the community move on without someone to keep their memories? Who are the elders? In the beginning where we are with Claire as she is thrown out of the birth mother community and realizes there is something different about herself and her community we hearken back to the realizations of Jonas that something isn't quite right. And seeing the story of Gabe unfold from the other side is heartbreaking and honest in it's description. We see Claire suffer through all of this on her own, when she's little more than a child.
In all, I would probably not buy this book for my library. Especially considering I don't have the other two novels, but I really feel as though, personally, I don't want to taint my memory and love of The Giver any further. That being said this is a good philosophical debate fodder, aimed towards a younger grade level, and students will definitely engage with the characters. It seems best read right after the other 2 novels, as there are many continuing threads.
I would rather leave my childhood alone, with Jonas arriving on his sled, to a warm house with a fire burning in the fireplace, I can imagine the rest of the story on my own.
This title also reviewed at Library Thing