Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Ron Rifkin
First line: It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.
My daughter read Lois Lowry’s The Giver last year and immediately declared that it was one of her all-time favorite books – and that I HAD to read it. The two YA dystopian challenges were the perfect reason, and so I checked out the audiobook from the library. It was absolutely amazing.
Jonas is about to go through the ceremony of 12, in which he will receive his work assignment. In Jonas’s world, all children ages 8 through 11 perform a certain number of required hours of volunteer work, and they are observed by the Elders. The Elders determine each child’s talents and proclivities, and then assign the children the jobs they will perform for all of their adult lives.
When the Ceremony of 12 is held, Jonas is startled to discover that he hasn’t been assigned, but has been chosen to be the Community’s new Receiver of Memory. A long time ago, back and back and back, the Community embraced the concept of “Sameness.” It is the main tenet of their community and government – sameness, uniformity. But one person is chosen to hold all the memories of the time before, and the current Receiver is getting old and so must become the Giver and give the memories to Jonas.
As Jonas receives the memories, he receives many things he has never experienced before: color, emotion, loneliness, war, joy, suffering, love, family, fun. And Jonas begins to understand just what the Community has sacrificed in order to have Sameness. When Jonas learns an awful truth about the Community at large, and his father in particular, he and the Giver come up with a plan to bring about change.
Natalie was absolutely right – this is a brilliant book. The fact that Lowry could layer so much depth and truth and thought into such a short book is amazing. Jonas is a wonderful character, as is The Giver himself. The world of Sameness is described so completely as we experience Jonas’s story, that the world becomes real. I became engrossed in Jonas’s story, so much so that I wept in many different parts of the book. Anyone who reads this can’t help but become wrapped up in Jonas and his journey, and along the way be confronted with so many issues: the value of life; the way that only suffering and hardship can bring true meaning to joy and pleasure; honor and respect for the elderly; how a desire for complete comfort can lead to denying the very things that make us human.
I can’t say enough about this book – it truly is a must-read. I am very much looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy.