We finished The Giver today. As usual, they all hated the ending. Well, hate is such an inexact word, as they would say in the Community. They don’t really hate the ending; they are frustrated by it, they find it unsatisfying.

“Did they die or what? Did they make it?”

“What do you think?” In my best Bob Newhart psychologist voice.

“I hate when you do that!”

“We’re going to read Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award acceptance speech on Monday, but…”

“I read that already.”

“Thank you for sharing; you’re very special. Then you’ll remember that she shares several different theories for the ending, none of which are hers. She won’t tell us.”

That’s not fair!”

“I know. She gets letters all the time asking her. She wants us to decide. I sort of like it better that way. I mean, you’d feel cheated if the last line read, ‘Then Jonas opened his eyes, and he was once again on the Giver’s couch.’ Or if Jonas turned out to be a normal kid having a bad dream on Christmas Eve.”

“Yeah but…”

“Ok, let’s look at the ending. Right before he finds the sled at the top of the hill, he suddenly feels happy. What’s up with that?”

“He’s happy he made it to the top.”

“He’s still starving and freezing.”

“Yeah but…”

“Ok. He finds the sled. And starts down the hill. He sees the colored lights and hears music, and it looks like he’s made it?”


“Did you know that one of the signs of starvation and hypothermia is that you might hallucinate? Maybe he’s just lying there in the snow enjoying one last memory/hallucination before he and Gabriel die of hypothermia and starvation. I figure that’s one theory.”

“That’s so sad. And there are two sequels.”

Gathering Blue isn’t really a sequel. It’s sort of at the same time as The Giver, and it’s a prequel for Messenger, which I think has a character named Gabriel and one called the Seer, which may or may not be Jonas. I haven’t read that one yet. Anyway, I’d like to be hopeful too. So another theory would be…”

“That he made it! He saw Christmas lights and heard singing and stuff.”

“Woohoo! It’s a cabin in the woods or whatever, and he finds some kid’s sled left out, and he slides right down to the house just in time.”

We all liked that one better. In one class though…

“Why would some kid leave his sled out on the hill like that?”

“I’ve never lived anywhere with actual weather, but I figure it’s like you guys leaving your bikes and balls and whatnot all over the place.”

“Yeah…but you’re sledding and Mom calls you in, why would you leave the sled at the top of the hill? Why wouldn’t you just ride it down and into the garage or whatever?”

“Ummmm.” Clever lad that. It was in this same class the other day, that we went down another fine seventh grade detour.

“I have a question.”

“That’s probably why you raised your hand.”  (Don’t you hate it when they do that?)

“They can’t see color, they can’t hear music. Can they smell smells?”

Boy howdy.

“Umm. I suspect they can. It’s sort of an evolutionary survival thing–you know smelling smoke and bad food and etc, and they do still eat food, and without smell that would be a chore. But I like how you’re thinking.”

“But if they didn’t, then maybe…you know how Jonas could see beyond, like colors and stuff. And the Giver at first could hear beyond. What if there was a  guy who could smell beyond?”


“Or taste!”

“What about feel beyond?”

“Feel what?”

“Ewww to the power of ewww.”

Things went south from there, literally and figuratively. Only five more days until vacation.