Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Book Info: Published by Laurel-Leaf Books; 179 pages; read on my Nook
Goodreads Summary: In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.
The Giver is set in a future society which is at first presented as a utopia and gradually appears more and more dystopic, so could therefore be considered anti-utopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. Jonas’ society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness”, a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of “Receiver of Memory,” the person who stores all the memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. As Jonas receives the memories from his predecessor—the “Giver”—he discovers how shallow his community’s life has become.
I finally finished my re-read of The Giver. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, and I’m glad I decided to read it again.
The world Lowry created is an interesting one. Everything is very precise and very controlled- to the point that there is no color, and there are no choices. Everything seems perfect, and then you start to realize that things are not as perfect as they seem. One person with the burden of all the memories, in the history of ever? I certainly wouldn’t want that.
When the previous receiver fails, and everyone receives the memories she received, they are unable to handle it. That is really interesting, because you realize they’ve done everything everything they can to get rid of emotional pain. They’re just not able to handle it, which is really interesting.
We seriously need to talk about release for a minute. It went over my head when I read it as a kid. It wasn’t until sometime in the last couple years or so that I realized what release really was. It was the hardest scene to read this time around, knowing that it was the society’s way of letting people go. I think this time around, I had a much better understanding of release. So reading it as an adult was really weird but also really cool.
It’s a pretty simple and straightfoward story, and yet there’s a lot there. I really like that the ending was ambiguous, because you get to think about how things might have turned out for Jonas and Gabe.
I give it a 4 out of 5. It held up pretty well, and it’s a pretty good story.