Monday, June 6, 2011

The Giver

by Lois Lowry

Dedication: "For all the children to whom we entrust the future"

First paragraph: "It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen. Frightened was the way he had felt a year ago when an unidentified aircraft had overflown the community twice. He had seen it both times. Squinting toward the sky, he had seen the sleek jet, almost a blur at its high speed, go past, and a second later heard the blast of sound that followed. Then one more time, a moment later, from the opposite direction, the same plane."

Review: I think a lot of us have read this book for school. I'm almost certain I did at some point; however, I did not remember the story at all. So maybe I just "read" the book for school. Who knows.

Jonas lives in a perfect community. Perfect matches are made for spouses, careers, and children. Starting at a young age children are taught the importance of the community and its rules. What they aren't taught is true emotion. True understanding. They lack what I think makes a human truly human. They lack love, hate, anger. Sure, they probably feel small annoyance and mistake that for anger but anyone who's truly known rage, knows annoyance is nothing like it.

At the age of twelve the children are given their adult work assignments and begin training. Jonas receives the highest honor someone in their community can receive. With that honor comes wisdom beyond his twelve years and suddenly he knows the secrets. Secrets that, when accompanied with the emotions he's been taught by his mentor, he can't let go unnoticed.

This book really makes you think. Maybe even a little bit more than I had bargained for in a late Sunday afternoon read.

How often have you claimed to be 'starving' when, in fact, you're merely a little more hungry than you were that morning? Do we take for granted the things around us. Simple colors? What would life be like without them. If everything was the same; if our world was flat and there was no more sunshine or rain; the climate was controlled for optimal agricultural production.

Doesn't sound very fun to me. I guess if it's all you knew then you wouldn't realize what you're missing.

This book was a great read. In fact, I am pretty sure I finished it in under 5 or 6 hours. I don't remember exactly what time I started reading it at but I do know that once I started I couldn't put it down. I had to find out more about Jonas and his world and how they functioned on such little stimuli.

Earlier I'd read another book review that mentioned the ending of this book. She, or he, didn't understand it. Didn't get what it meant. They talked about how they wished it had ended differently. At first I couldn't help but be like, "Yes! I feel the exact same way!" But after having had a little while to mull it over I'm not so sure I agree.

Yes. It would have been nice for an exact, "and this is what happened to them", but instead we're left to interpret the ending for ourselves. Whether you look at it optimistically, pessimistically, or pessimistically with a hint of optimism there are a lot of things the ending could mean. I still haven't decided what the ending means to me but I do know that it signifies how important choice, freedom, and love are for the human race. What's the point in living if you don't have those?

If you haven't read this book I'd definitely suggest it. If you've read it but don't remember the story very well, go read it again. It's simplicity in writing makes the complexity of its words that much more poignant.

Click Here for a Lois Lowry Website on The Giver.

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