Andrew's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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Jan 29, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: science-fiction-fantasy, newbery-medal, best-ya-books-of-all-time
Read from January 21 to 28, 2012

I read this book many years ago. I recently saw it adapted into an opera, so I wanted to revisit it. I had forgotten how incredible this book really is. It has been said that it is 1984 for middle school students. I would suspect that would be an apt description (Embarrassingly, I have never read 1984, but I am fully aware of the premise of the book. I plan to read it soon.)

Jonas lives in a perfect world, there is little crime, there is little pain, and people really have nothing to worry about. It is a utopia and on the surface everything is perfect. The people are now better off because of "Sameness." Or, so it all seems.

At the age of 12 children are assigned their adult jobs. There is no reason to allow the children to choose their profession, the wise benevolent leaders of the society take care of that for them. Jonas is chosen to become The Receiver of memories. Jonas will spend his coming weeks training with the societies' current Receiver. He will transmit, or give, all of the memories from the societies that came before Sameness.

It is with this that Jonas begins to discover the true evil of his society. Sameness has created a group of people that do not love, do not feel, and do not even see color. After all, you can't have peace and assure that everyone is fed if you allow human beings to have feelings.

Lois Lowry covers some challenging themes indirectly in this book. One of the darkest parts of this society is the "Release" of human beings. All "childless adults" are released (euthanized) at a certain age after they are no longer considered useful to the community. Even darker, young infants are released when it is determined that they are not growing at an acceptable speed. After all, the society only wants the most perfect of human beings. The society is committing infanticide, which depending on the level of the student, could lead to a evaluation of the topic of abortion.

I was struck by how appropriate this book is to our time. In many ways America has become a society of people that seem to want a certain amount of "sameness." We definitely have become a people that are scared of pain and trouble. Our reaction to the most recent economic crisis is glaring evidence of this.

I was struck by this passage:

"Oh." Jonas was silent for a minute. "Oh, I see what you mean. It wouldn't matter for a newchild's toy. But later it does matter, doesn't it? We don't dare to let people make choices of their own."

"Not safe?" The Giver suggested.

"Definitely not safe," Jonas said with certainty. "What if they were allowed to choose their own mate? And chose wrong?

"Or what if," he went on, almost laughing at the absurdity, "they chose their own jobs?"

Making choices, and failing by making the wrong choices, is a fundamental human trait and need.

The beauty of this book really lies in how Lowry is able to cram so much content into 179 pages. The Giver is a must-read book for teenagers!

Genre: Science-Fiction/Fantasy
Lexile: 760
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01/21/2012 page 34
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