Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: Children’s Dystopian
Opening lines: ‘…It was almost December, and Jonas was starting to be frightened…’
Blurb: Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war, fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth.
My thoughts: The Newbery Medal winning book, THE GIVER, is the first in a quartet of books. The main character in this book is Jonas who lives in a highly regulated society. At first it seems like his society is a utopia as there is no fighting, hunger or suffering and every stage of their lives is highly organised from a child’s arrival in the production unit, then to being assigned to a family unit, a job and eventually to the elder’s centre where they wait until they are released with a glorious celebration of life. Everything is the same, everyone is nice, and there are no emotions. Each December there is a whole of community gathering where babies are assigned to their parent unit, and each child is officially welcomed to their new age group. This year Jonas is leaving the elevens and is going to enter his twelfth year this is where each twelve is assigned their position in society; this could be anything from birth mother to elderly carer. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory" the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. He meets the Giver who then proceeds to pass the memories onto Jonas and life is no longer the same as everyone else, he now understands love, pain, colour, hunger and war.
“…The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared…”
Lois Lowry has very skilfully created an intriguing world and thought provoking story. Gradually the reader begins to realise that there is something wrong with this perfect world, that instead of being a utopia it is in fact a dystopia where everybody is forced to comply to a rigid set of rules for their own good. The goal of the society is sameness because if there is no differences then there will be no conflict. Any location outside their community is classified as ‘Elsewhere’ and to be feared. As a book lover I was saddened to see that books were not available to anyone – no books no knowledge outside what was made available. One of the first things Jonas gets access to is books, as they are part of the memories he has to keep.
“…How could you describe a hill and snow to someone who had never felt height or wind or that feathery, magical cold?..”
THE GIVER has been challenged and banned despite the fact it was considered worthy of an award. However I am not a supporter of this book being banned. This is a coming of age story as Jonas gains enlightenment from receiving the memories and then decides to do something to change the current conditions. Not a decision to be made lightly – but then what he experiences is not to be taken lightly either. Despite the society he is living in this is a 12-year-old boy, his voice wouldn’t even have started breaking. THE GIVER brings up some controversial issues such as euthanasia, infanticide, and suicide (to name but a few) it is up to the reader to decide what stand they want to take on such subjects and encourages them to think about the issues that they have read. Aimed at older children and above it is a very good introduction to the idea of suppressive governments. Good literature makes its reader think and THE GIVER certainly leaves you thinking long after you have turned the last page.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
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