Jeane's Reviews > The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry
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Sep 13, 07

bookshelves: yaliteraturejournal
Read in September, 2007

Lowry, Lois (1993). The Giver. NY: Bantam Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc. 180 pages.

Summary and Evaluation: In this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, the reader is introduced to Jonas, who lives in a utopian community without pain or fear; where all his needs are provided for – and all his decisions are made for him. During his twelfth year he is selected as the community’s Receiver to absorb and hold all the memories of humankind, both good and bad. His training will expose truths about the world and his community causing him to embark on a journey where he must make the biggest choice of his life.

My interest in this book was piqued last year when I read an excerpt of it in my Children’s Literature class. I know when I really enjoy a book because I find myself thinking about it for days after I’ve finished reading it. That's how I was with The Giver. This novel has elements of both mystery and science fiction (vaguely reminiscent of my fav, Frank Herbert’s Dune) that kept me engrossed to the end. Lowry keeps the narrative suspenseful by slowly uncovering details of community life allowing the reader to piece together the alien (not literally) yet fascinating community of these characters. I found this novel really refreshing after reading the relationship dramas of Forever and Seventeenth Summer. On the surface The Giver does not seem as based in ‘reality’ as Forever and Seventeenth Summer, but on deeper consideration it does deal with topics that many young adults are beginning to ponder at their age. This story delves into important societal questions such as: ‘Would the world be a better place if there were rules and punishments to guide every person’s actions?’, ‘Could a person be truly happy if they faced no challenges or did not have to make decisions in life?’, ‘Would you be willing to forgo the wonders of life if it meant you would never have to experience anything bad?’ Although somewhat exaggerated in a Twilight-Zone sort of way, this story includes the typical coming-of-age themes in young adult literature including the inevitability of growing up and learning hard truths about life, of seeking independence from family and community units, and developing ideas and beliefs separate from those you grew up with. The only thing that frustrated me with The Giver was the open-ended conclusion. While some readers might enjoy imagining what happens after the story ends, I personally wanted more of my questions answered! Without giving the ending away, I was left wondering whether the decision Jonas made turned out to be the best choice of action and the effect it had on those around him.

Booktalk Hook: This novel probably does not need much of a push due to its renown, but in any case I would begin by introducing the novel with a short summary similar to the one written above. I would then set up the passage I was going to read (pg. 47 beginning with "Break for midday meal." through end of chapter) by explaining that the scene involves Jonas, the main character, having a conversation with his best friend, Asher, about the Assignments they were to receive shortly at the ceremony celebrating their twelfth year.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Emily (last edited Apr 14, 2008 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emily The ending isn't open-ended, on the contrary, it is clearly the end for our young hero. I would say that much like "Pan's Labyrinth" you can choose to believe what fate you would like to befall Jonas & Gabe. But symbolism is an excellent tool in literature and "the white light", usually means one thing and one thing only.

But I have to agree with you, this book does make you think long after you finish reading it. I read it when I was eleven and 15 years later, I still think about it. It's the kind of book that makes an impact that stays with you always.


Callie Yow The ending was a good one, I think, It's just that I wish it was not over!


Flora (Excessive hubris.) Lol. Callie. That would be very longgg, and I would most probably give up on it.


Cecelia The ending was not complete. That really bothered me. Did Jonas find peace and solace in his new environment?


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