Kira is a girl with a twisted leg who lives in a more primitive society where people who cannot work, die. She has been kept alive by her mother, and when her mother dies, Kira is brought before the Council of Guardians. Kira’s life is spared when she proves she can weave very well, and she is assigned to the task of fixing up the robe worn by the singer whose only job is to sing the story of human civilization once a year. She meets Thomas, the boy whose duty is to carve the Singer’s staff. When finding out she needs to dye her own thread, Kira begins making a trip to the hut of Annabella, an old woman who teaches Kira dyeing. Annabella shows her the plants needed to make every color, except for blue.
Kira slowly learns that her life is less than idyllic. She hears crying in her building, and she and Thomas discover another orphan girl whose ability is to sing and will eventually replace the current Singer. The orphan girl is scolded and punished if she does not sing; Kira befriends her but realizes she, Thomas, and the orphan girl do not have as much freedom as thought. At the Ceremony, she sees the Singer (whose robe she is fixing). She realizes that his feet are chained, and he is essentially a prisoner. The implication is that she and the others with gifts are also prisoners. Kira is also friends with a boy named Matt. He tells Kira of a village he once came across while lost in the woods. This village had blue. When the day that the Singer sings his song comes, Matt is nowhere to be found. He eventually returns with a blind man from the village in a blue shirt. The man, it turns out, is the father whom Kira thought was dead: Christopher.
He now lives in a community made up of injured and disabled people who help one another. Christopher has enemies on the council and is forced to return. Kira decides to stay in the village to continue to mend the singer’s robe and help improve the society she lives in. Eventually, close to the end of the book Matt tells Kira about a boy with blue eyes from the community her dad is from. He says he has blue eyes and is not injured in any way. He thinks Kira should get married with him, but Kira declines. That boy is later revealed to be ‘Jonas’ from The Giver,
a book also by Lowry.
Kira – a young girl with a twisted leg and gifted in weaving; She is the protagonist of the novel
Vandara – an evil enemy of Kira’s; she requests that Kira be sent to the field to die
Annabella – an elderly woman who teaches Kira about dyes
Thomas – Kira’s friend, a young man gifted in wood carvings
Jo – a toddler girl gifted in singing
Matt – a young boy who helps Kira, Thomas, and (later) Christopher
Jamison – an older man, Kira’s sponsor and mentor from the Council of Guardians; later found to be the man who attempted to kill Christopher.
Christopher – Kira’s father
Katrina – Kira’s Mother
Branch – Matt’s dog