May 17, 2010

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (Book One) By Lois Lowry

(Author Site) (Giver Trilogy)
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.

When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to recieve special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it's time for Jonas to recieve the truth. There is no turning back.

Summary from back of a 2002 print book.
The Giver is book one of a trilogy called the Giver Trilogy. The world that Jonas lives in is a completely assimilated one. No one questions the life they are given. After 12 yearly milestones the passage of time no longer matters. You are given a job, are trained for that job, and you continue to on in life until you are considered an Old. In Jonas' world everyone has a place, and if you do not fit into one of those places you are sent away. To be sent away is to go into the unknown.

Jonas is called to become the next Receiver, a job that he has never heard of, and will be the only Receiver once his training is complete. He is told it is one of the hardest, most painful, and solitary jobs for one person to have. But, it is also one of the most important. When Jonas begins to train to be the new Receiver he begins to learn things that he never knew before. Like colors, snow, and sunburns. He also learns about making mistakes.

"Frightening isn't it?" The Giver said.

Jonas chuckled. "Very frightening. I can't even imagine it. We really have to protect people from wrong choices."

"It's safer."

"Yes," Jonas agreed. "Much safer."

But when the conversation turned to other things, Jonas was left, still, with a feeling of frustration that he didn't understand. (pg. 98-99)

The more that Jonas learns from the Giver the quicker he realizes that the world has so much more to offer then what he has been shown in his short life. The more he learn the more he begins to want others to see what he sees. While he's been told his whole life that Sameness is best the memories that the Giver is passing onto him causes conflict within himself.

I really have to say that I can see why The Giver is such a classic. The exaggerated conformity of the world that The Giver is set in doesn't really seem too far off. If no one speaks up for change in the world we could very well find ourselves blindly following others.

"It seems to work pretty well that way, doesn't it? The way we do it in our community?" Jonas asked. "I just didn't realize there was any other way, until I received that memory." (pg. 125)
As simplistic as Jonas' life is the more he learns about other ways to live and of other memories the more he wants to experience what is beyond his community. Jonas comes to understand that happiness can come from variety, experience, and knowledge rather then Sameness. The Giver is beautifully written book. The message that Lowry gives to young readers is loud and clear. I look forward to reading the next two books of the series.

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