The Giver by Lois Lowery
The Skinny: Jonas lives in a world that is literally perfect – there’s no war or famine; no race or prejudice; no choices to be made. At 12, children of Jonas’ society are given their careers, jobs that they will train for and have been selected for due to their aptitudes. But when Jonas is given his career, he is startled by what he has been assigned to. Jonas has been chosen to become the next Receiver of Memories, a position that is held in the highest esteem in his society. As Jonas receives the memories from a man known to him only as the Giver, he is exposed to all the things his society rid itself of. But once Jonas knows the truth, there’s no turning back (stolen from Goodreads… it was a good line!).
BFF?: I loved Jonas so so much! He is exactly what I imagine a boy on the cusp of adulthood to be. There are moments when he’s kind of childish, whining and wanting to stop his training because it’s too hard. But then he realizes he has to continue and braves himself for what is coming. It was interesting to see his reactions to some of the memories he is given and how naive his society has made him. There’s just something so completely genuine about Jonas; he’s not a hero. He’s not out to change the world. He just is.
Readability: Clearly this wasn’t a difficult read, since it was written for middle grades. But even then, there were some difficult concepts to get and I loved how simplistic Lowery made them. For me, it was a quick read that kept me thinking and intrigued to know more about this world.
Crush Level: 0
He’s 12… c’mon now!
I remember the first time I saw this movie and it made me think of the Giver and how Jonas begins to see things with color. What’s even interesting is that the first color shown in the movie (when it’s black and white) is red – the same color Jonas begins to first see in the book.
The memories Jonas receives aren’t always good ones, but his reactions to them were always very genuine. My favorite was when he was given the memory of a Christmas scene, filled with lights and family. His reactions to it weren’t what I was expecting and I thought it showed just how different and bleak his society was.
Commencement Speech: There is so much I could say about this book, but I’m pretty sure my words won’t do it justice. As with most dystopian novels, there’s a sense of bleakness to them, colorless worlds that are filled with unhappiness and a sense of unsettlement. The Giver isn’t really like that. Lowery paints a world free from all the negative factors in our own world – racism, famine, divorce, sadness, war. There were certain moments where I almost thought “okay, a world like this might actually be better!” I remember thinking that way also when I was younger and first read the book.
The main thing I love about this book is that in its simplicity, it forces you to think. It forces you to consider this world Lowery gives us and decide is it better to live this way and be free from all the burdens in our lives or to live knowing our circumstances are of our own choice but having the freedom to make those choices? The Giver is one of those books that’s fantastic reading at a younger age, but all the more poignant and meaningful reading it again as an adult.
Yearbook Quote: “Gabe?” The newchild stirred slightly in his sleep. Jonas looked over at him. “There could be love”, Jonas whispered.”
Superlatives – Best book to base your dystopian novel on
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