Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
By Yari Nieves-Rivera, Courier Book Editor
The Giver by Lois Lowry is a novel set in the near future, where the world is split up into different communities. In this society, not only are people not allowed to have children, they arenít allowed to choose who they marry or the way they live their own lives. At the age of twelve, they are assigned a job that they will have for the rest of their lives. At a certain age, when the adults in the family unit have served their purpose, and they are sent to housing for childless adults. There, they wait out their days until they are Ďreleasedí outside of the community.
The story is told in third person point-of-view, and follows a boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a standard family unit, consisting of a mother, a father, and a sister. None of them are biologically related, but they hold a strong bond like any other family. Since they live in this community, they are told to show no emotion and to be the same as others. While the children grow up, they are watched carefully by the Council of Elders. They choose the jobs based on the childís special abilities. Jonas fears the day this comes, more and more every day.
At one point, Jonas begins to have sexual feelings towards a girl he knows. When he tells his parents, they call it Ďstirringsí. They give him pills to stop his feelings. At this point, Jonas is already twelve. On the day of the decision, he absolutely has no idea what to expect. As theyíre calling out the names, they skip over his. Frightened, he doesnít know what to do. At the end of the ceremony, he finds out that heís to be the new Giver, a very high honor.
When Jonas, nervously, goes to meet with the Giver, he finds that the man holds the memories of the past. To become the Giver, Jonas must completely remove himself from his society. He is told that he cannot ask to be released, and that he cannot follow his societyís standards anymore. From thereon, the story of Jonas and the Giver truly takes off.
The whole story is based on the readerís imagination. It is told in a way that imagination must be used to interpret it. In one scene, Jonas is imagining a family sitting by a fire during Christmas, but he doesnít fully describe it. The reader has to imagine what the family looks like and try to understand why Jonas feels that way. Imagination, although key for reading other books, is extremely important in this novel. It gives it a special way of telling a story, and itís a pretty great story to tell.
The Giver is one of my favorite books because the society they live in is so...unexpected. It is a society where everyone is equal. Race canít be seen, but you also canít see any colors. You have an opportunity to get a job youíre good at, but you donít get to choose it yourself. Although the concept of the society is good, living in a world like that sort of takes away some of humanityís faults. It is supposed to be perfect for them, but then again, no society is perfect.
Itís a tragic story to tell, in all honesty. While reading, I felt so bad for Jonas and the Giver. They held the memories of the past so dear to them, but they couldnít show anyone or anything. They had to keep it all to themselves, no matter how amazing it was. They are both separated from a society that only has them to remember all of the past that they donít have to remember. The Giver truly touches on how humanity can be cruel and evil at the same time, and that to overcome it, we must have a bit of courage and know whatís right.