Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Published August 1st 1994 by Dell Laurel-Leaf (first published April 26th 1993).
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. (Goodreads)
Guys I seriously don’t know what to even say about this book. I have so many feels and I can’t even contain them. I laughed, I cried, and I’m still crying as I surf the web and watch interviews, listen to NPR, etc. The writing is so precise, so clean, so beautiful that I don’t think I am going to be able to forget this one anytime soon. Thank the gods Misty stumbled across this when we were in The Book Thing in Baltimore. Otherwise I probably would have never read this masterpiece. As I was reading each chapter I had to gush, chat, explain, tell someone about how much the writing and the story was hitting me, what the story was making me feel. I love this book and if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. I am considering buying this book for everyone on my Christmas list this year, but I think I’m probably the last person on the planet to read this. I was not assigned to read this in school and it’s a shame. To be honest though I probably wouldn’t have loved it at all if that was the case. So maybe it’s a good thing I just read it.
In this world you’re assigned a spouse, you apply for children birthed by other girls, and can only have one male and one female. Every year there are ceremonies essentially graduating children from one milestone to the next. At 1 children are given names and assigned to family units, at 8 you start volunteer work, at 9 you are presented with a bicycle, at 10 everyone gets distinguishable hair cuts, at 12 you’re assigned a job. When you’re no longer needed by the community you are released. Jonas is quite anxious about how the process works and what job he will be assigned to. He is selected to be the next “Receiver of Memory” and his training is very different than any of his friends. He has a very important job to do. While training he realizes what an injustice the community is doing and with the help of The Giver they devise a plan to change all that.
I could tell you everything that happens in the novel and I would still recommend you to read it for yourself. It is imaginative and thought provoking, and again the writing is stunning. It’s intense and so good it will make you feel things you haven’t felt for a book in awhile. I haven’t been this pumped about a book in so long. I thought maybe I could watch and enjoy the movie now, but I watched the trailer and it’s not worthy. I know they tried, but you just can’t capture the essence of perfection. Without a doubt this book is worthy of 5 stars. If you think it’s any less I will warn that the ending is slightly open ended but it’s so perfect and from what I understand the fourth book in the quartet, Son, revisits some of the characters in The Giver. Please, please, please read this book!