Sarah O'Brien's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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Oct 24, 2011

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Read in October, 2011

In a world of euphemistic perfection, Jonas is anxious, yet excited, to find out what work he will be assigned to do in his community. Everyone is assigned work at the age of twelve and Jonas is no different. But his work assignment certainly is. He's been selected to take on the most honored - and the most painful - assignment in the community. It is a work that no one else can do, except for the man who was selected for the work before Jonas - The Giver. He trains Jonas and prepares him to really understand and acquire the wisdom that comes from the work. Not only does Jonas remain brave and courageous throughout his training, but he goes beyond that and thinks of a way to try and save his community even if it thinks it doesn't need saving.

Jonas' community has been developed into an isolated community devoid of free will and the people have been trained from infancy to accept it and to know no other way of life. Every December there is a ceremony held for each age group ages 1-12. Everyone in a given age group is given the same thing. For all the new children born that year they are assigned names; the eights are all given the same style jackets to signify their age group; the nines receive their bicycles; the tens have their hair cut in a particular style; the twelves are assigned their work. Everyone knows their place and the rules. Adults apply to be married and The Elders assign the partners. Those parents apply for children. They are allowed only one boy and one girl and those children are assigned to their parents during the ceremony where they are named. Dreams are scheduled for discussion in each family unit as a matter of course every morning. Feelings of the day are discussed at dinner. But soon Jonas learns that everything doesn't have to be this way.

How would our real world change if everything was assigned and regulated? If no one was allowed free will, would we all be safer? What if we didn't know about free will - would our communities and societies be better? How long do you think a world like Jonas' would last?

The Giver is a very popular book for children to read in schools and for good reason. We all do well to contemplate how we choose to act on our gift of free will.

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