Cassandra Wright's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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's review
Jan 23, 2012

In The Giver, Lois Lowry gives her readers an insightful distopian novel. It describes life in a futuristic, post-tragedy world. This world is one devoid of individuality or choice for most people. Children are assigned to families, dressed according to their age, allowing for no diversity. They are educated in a government run institution, watched constantly, and forbidden to stand out or keep their thoughts and dreams to themselves. Their vocations are assigned to them at the age of twelve. The community doesn't ever question this formula for living, because they are never exposed to anything else.

The reader encounters this society through the eyes of the protagonist, Jonas. At the ceremony in which children are assigned their jobs for life, Jonas is assigned the occupation of Receiver, which entails the acquisition of all of the memories (of everything involving pain or pleasure through-out the world's history. These memories are denied to the community. The community has no idea that any other way of life ever existed. They don't know what snow looks like, how it feels to gather around a Christmas tree, or what the horrors of war entail. The receiver carries that knowledge for them in order to maintain the system. After being exposed to the intensities of life, both the highs and lows, Jonas begins to rebel against the system. Why can't others know of the thrills of sledding down a snow covered hillside, or the joy found in viewing the vibrant colors of a rainbow? This book details the progression of Jonas developing awareness and his determination to liberate his community from their ignorance, giving them a choice that they have lacked for so long.

One of the more interesting aspects of this book is the ambiguous ending. This makes it ideal for middle-school readers for two reasons. One is that it allows readers to either cope with implied tragedy, or to run from it by filling in the blanks with details they prefer. The other reason is that it forces readers to make a choice on their own regarding the outcome of Jonas' actions. Since choice is such a predominant theme in the book, the ending requires readers to embrace their ability and consider how comfortable they really are with the execution of their own right to choose.

Lowry's tone is a bit bland, but that merely allows for a focus on the issues which her narrative highlights. This is a brilliant book to inspire thoughts about things that are often taken for granted, or trends which society is adopting, when making text-to-world connections. It is accessible to children as young as middle-school age, but can appeal to audiences of much later years as well. I would recommend it to anyone who has not had the pleasure of experiencing the ideas possessed within its pages.


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