Christina's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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's review
Feb 01, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: topics-in-literature
Read in January, 2009

YOYA Code: 5Q 4P

Pre-Reading/Anticipatory Thoughts :
In my undergrad work at Georgia Southern, I took an Adolescent Lit. class as an elective, so I had some background information on this author/ book when I saw it on the reading list. I knew it would contain controversial issues like the other books we discussed in that class. This might sound menial, but when I went to Books –a-Million to purchase this novel, I found it interesting it was located in the children’s section as opposed to teenage literature. After reading the back cover and the first few pages, I was able to see how they categorized it to fit into the children’s section based on the ages of both Jonas and Lily. I am anxious to read further into this genre of young adult literature because we didn’t read much sci-fi or fantasy novels in the class I’ve already taken. I see the benefit for children to discuss these issues in schools, but I am curious to see how the already-teachers in our class view this type of literature as well because they work with parents more than I do.
During Reading :
I am enjoying reading The Giver so far. It reminds me of another utopian YA novel titled Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. I just finished reading through chapter ten, and one place in the novel really made me want to stop and think. The community Jonas and his family unit reside in is almost like an alternate universe. It’s really sad they have to take pills to prevent them from having pleasant dreams. At the end of this chapter I underlined this quote: “[Jonas:] remembered that, upon waking, he had wanted to feel the Stirrings again” (39). As I underlined this particular passage, I also wrote “HOW MISERABLE” in the margin. The way this community ignores feelings and avoids communication would really teach kids the importance of family. I think they would relate to Jonas's feelings at this point in the novel and realize they are normal and common. The red motif has been another interesting aspect of the novel, and I am curious to see how it unfolds at the end.
After Reading :
I enjoyed this novel for several reasons. The feelings Jonas is able to experience by way of the Giver change him, and he is able to step back and see things from a different perspective. The lesson Jonas learns is difficult for both kids and adults. I believe adolescents can relate to the physical and emotional changes Jonas undergoes through from start to finish. As he accepts more responsibility, Jonas questions actions of his community that he used to love so much. In chapter seventeen, when his friends let him down because they poke fun at war without knowing what it’s really like, Jonas realizes the extent of his training. After he breaks up the pretend war game, the narration describes Jonas’s thoughts: “He felt such love for Asher and Fiona. But they could not feel it back, without the memories. And he could not give them those. Jonas knew with certainty that he could change nothing” (135). The fact that nothing in the community can be changed foreshadow the plan Jonas and The Giver create. When Jonas learns of his father’s actions during release ceremonies, and the upcoming release of Gabriel, he can no longer remain a part of the community. I believe this novel will help adolescents cope with issues relating to their parents they might not understand. I believe the novel ended well, closing the recurring red motif with the sled he and Gabriel use to get down the hill. Being a person who strives for closure, I would have liked a little more detail at the end, but I see why Lowry left it open to the imagination.
Ideas for Future Teaching : Like I mentioned in the “After Reading” section, this novel presents motifs and themes any teenager can relate to. Even though the community is similar to an alternate universe, it would still teach kids to be thankful for the world we live in today. I would teach this novel in an American literature class as a bildungsroman. I might do a parallel reading with a classic American Literature novel such as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I think adolescents would enjoy The Giver and they might be more interested in reading a classic like Huck Finn if we have first read and discussed this piece of work.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Darren (new)

Darren I think there's definitely a lot in the text that modern teens can relate to, especially (as you mention) the interactions with and requirements imposed by authorities (both in the form of parents and larger social forces). Just about every teen struggles with negotiating these boundaries of freedom and constraint, which, in Jonas' case, are transformed into a conflict between enlightenment and repression. The discussion could easily dwell on deeper issues such as whether or not knowledge--and all it reveals--is better than ignorance. As Helen Keller noted, "Most people don't like to think. Thinking means drawing conclusions, and conclusions aren't always pleasant."

Thanks for your thinking and your response.

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