Saturday, February 9, 2008
Book Review: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult
Personal Rating: 5/5
From the back cover:
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community.
When Jonas turns 12 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. There is no turning back.
After my disappointment with my last book, I was hesitant about reading The Giver. I had once again heard very good things about this book and I didn’t want to be disappointed again. I wasn’t. This book was brilliant, for a young adult or adult. As I was reading this book my husband asked me “Are you going to put that book down tonight?” Of course the answer was no. I read it in one sitting (it is pretty short).
Jonas lives in a very structured community/world where one has very few choice and no choices about anything important, such as who you will marry, who will be your child, your job, when you will die…etc. Every year there is a special ceremony and each age group of children “advances” in the community. One year they get jackets with pockets (they can now be trusted to take care of their own things), one year they get bicycles, and at year 12 they are assigned the job they will have for their entire lives. The years leading up to they year 12 ceremony they are observed by Elders who always choose the correct job that “fits” the child. Some will be labors, others doctors, birthmothers, or lawyers.
At the year 12 ceremony it is announced the Jonas has been SELECTED to be the Receiver of Memory, a very great honor but that requires great courage since he will feel physical pain, something no one else will ever do. Jonas was selected by the current Receiver of Memory who is old and must pass on all the memories to Jonas. He asks Jonas to call him The Giver. The Giver literally has all the memories leading up to the current community (going back hundreds of years?) when people actually had choices & free will. If there is not one person to “hold” the memories they would be released back into the community and cause great suffering and pain to everyone.
What I’ve mentioned has just skimmed what this book is about. There isn’t much text, but the book says a lot (does that make sense?). Unfortunately, it ends up on banned and challenged book listed for some of the situations that occur in the book (euthanasia for example). In my opinion this book should be read because of those situations. They can open up doors for discussions about the freedoms and choices we have and what were to happen if we didn’t.