Retro Reads

Retro Reads Thursday: The Giver

As we all know, dystopian novels are all the rage now. They’re full of action and deceit, compromising situations that force the characters and readers to understand the fault in our natures. There’s usually killing and darker themes, things that force us to see the utter chaos a dystopian society brings.

But once upon a time there was a simpler, quieter dystopian in disguise: The Giver by Lois Lowery.

The Giver focuses on Jonas, a young boy who is given the job of being The Receiver of Memories. As the previous Receiver, known to Jonas only as the Giver, gives him memories of past lives, past worlds, Jonas is opened up to a world he never knew existed, one with feelings and emotions, war, terror, sunshine, and family. He begins to realize the faults of his perfect society, flipping between understanding and disgust. But when he sees a terrible act done by someone he is close to, Jonas, with the help of the Giver, plans to escape, something that is unheard of in his community.

This is the first of my Retro Reads that I actually reread before I wrote about it. I remember it being very good when I first read it when I was younger, but I didn’t remember THAT much. What I didn’t remember, though, was feeling like I had been punched in the stomach and all the breath sucked out of me in one second.

As a younger reader I don’t remember understanding a lot of the ideas presented in this book but I got the general concept of them. As an older reader I see how simplistic the ideas are presented, but have a better grasp of their full impact. There’s a scene in which Jonas and the Giver discuss the idea of “choice” and what would happen if people got to choose their own spouse or career. It really makes you think… what would happen? Well, we can look at our own society and see exactly what happens.

Part of me wishes I had been a more critical reader when I was younger so I could have gotten more out of this book, but either way, I remember it to be one of the best books of its time, one that not only entertained but made me think. As an adult, it still has a huge, if not bigger, impact on me and the way I see our society.

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6 thoughts on “Retro Reads Thursday: The Giver”

  1. I have always had such love for this book. I need to go back and read it again. I remember reading it in sixth grade and thinking how scary it was that our society was already heading the direction of Jonas’s world, and that I didn’t want sameness to prevail. It made a huge impact on me.

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  2. I love this book. I haven’t read it as an adult adult, but I did re-read it in high school, and remember being struck by the intensity of the plot much more than when I was a child.

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  3. I read this one for the first time a couple months ago… not sure how I passed it over as a kid. It’s so good!

    Have you read the sequels? I am just curious if they are worthwhile or not.

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  4. I read this for the first time in 8th grade, I think. It’s the first book that I can remember just being in utter awe of. Like you said, the feeling of being punched in the stomach. I read it again a couple of years ago and was amazed in new ways.

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  5. I feel like The Giver was one of the first books I ever read that really made me think. I don’t remember exactly when I read it, and yet, it’s one of the few books that have stuck with me for a lifetime. It was such a precursor to the current popularity of dystopians, and still one of the best if you ask me. So glad you showcased this one!

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