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My son read The Giver by Lois Lowry a couple years ago in his seventh grade English class and raved about it. This, coming from someone who doesn’t like to read. He even gave a copy to his grandmother for Christmas. It didn’t look particularly appealing to me, though I had read several of Lois Lowry’s other books years ago and really enjoyed them.
Since I’ve been reviewing books over the last several weeks, I’ve been trying to select a few volumes that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up to read. The Giver is one of those.
The story involves a futuristic society where sameness is the norm. Everyone dresses the same way, has the same birthday, is given a bicycle at age nine, discusses feelings at supper and dreams at breakfast, is unfailingly polite and everything is extremely well-organized. Each person in the community has a job that is selected for him or her when turning age twelve. Babies are born to those whose job is “birth mother,” are named only in December and are given to families who have applied for them – only one boy and girl per family. Those who disobey the rules, don’t fit in or are too old are “released.”
The main character in the story, an eleven-turning-twelve-year-old boy named Jonas is given the exceedingly rare job of “Receiver” and goes to the “Giver” each day for instruction. What Jonas receives are memories of what life used to be like before the sameness. This knowledge changes Jonas forever. He learns about color and weather and that being “released” actually means euthanasia. When his family’s foster baby is scheduled to be released, Jonas and the baby Gabriel escape.
The ending is left up to the reader to determine. Does Jonas find a place to fit in “elsewhere” or do he and Gabriel die? It’s a powerful book for young people and for many adults.
It only took me a few hours to read The Giver and I, too, loved it. I can see that it would appeal to teenagers because of the thought of such an unusual society.
The Giver is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal and Regina Medal. I highly recommend this book be required reading for junior high school students. Parents who read it along with their teens will benefit from some interesting discussions. Anyone who simply likes a good read will enjoy it.