Jonas is growing up in the perfect world: no pain, no fear, no doubt, and no hunger. Nearing his 12th year, Jonas is facing his Assignment in the adult world, the placement that will dictate his life until he moves to the house for the old. But instead of being assigned like every other Twelve, he is chosen for a special position, one with great honor, exceptional loneliness and unbearable pain. Jonas is chosen to receive all of the memories from generations past that are currently held within one man, the Giver. These memories bring the truth of all that has been missing in Jonas’ life: deep and meaningful emotion, the ability to see the world in color, and everything else that has been kept from him for so long, including love and choice.
APA Reference of Book:
Lowry, L. (1993). The giver. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
This is your typical dystopian society packaged as a utopian. As is typical with these kinds of books it is not until the reader gets about half way through that they really realize just how messed up the “perfect” society is. After thinking about it for a while I decided that this story reminds me of leaving the comforting world of childhood and facing the reality of the harsh world around us for the first time. The depth of our maturing emotions can and will bring us unbearable pain but it will also bring us great joy, such as the feeling of longing and the sound of music that Jonas is finally able to experience. Ultimately I think that this book is amazing, it makes me sad to think of all the time I wasted keeping it on my to-read list and never actually picking it up. When I think of award winning books, this books really exemplified for me what a Newbery Award winner should be.
“In the `ideal’ world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children’s adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment, sensibly chosen by the community’s Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are `released’–to great celebration–at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also `released,’ but with no fanfare. Lowry’s development of this civilization is so deft that her readers, like the community’s citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. Until the time that Jonah begins training for his job assignment–the rigorous and prestigious position of Receiver of Memory–he, too, is a complacent model citizen. But as his near-mystical training progresses, and he is weighed down and enriched with society’s collective memories of a world as stimulating as it was flawed, Jonas grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world. With a storyline that hints at Christian allegory and an eerie futuristic setting, this intriguing novel calls to mind John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy and Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl. Lowry is once again in top form–raising many questions while answering few, and unwinding a tale fit for the most adventurous readers. Ages 12-14. (Apr.)”
(1993, April 26). [Review of the book The giver, by L. Lowry]. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-395-64566-6
I would use this book along with other titles to set up a display for Banned Books Week. I would also feature it as the book for a young adult/ adult reading group. Once the book was read and the group met again, I would show the movie for the readers to compare and contrast and hold a discussion about banned books.