I wasn’t sure what to expect when I borrowed The Giver from my library’s e-book collection. It had been on my ‘to read’ list for quite a while but I never made it a priority. “It’s a children’s book. Will I really get anything from reading it?” I wish I hadn’t waited so long as this book is a treasure.
SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD:
Jonas is about to turn twelve. In his world, you are given your assignment at your 12th year ceremony. The elders have watched you and determined your skills so that you can be trained to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. As Jonas watches all of his friends getting their assignments, he realizes that they have skipped him. At the end of the ceremony, he is called forward and told that he has been selected as the next Giver, a rare honor. Unsure what this means, Jonas begins his training the following day.
The world that Lois Lowry has created may seem ideal to many. Everyone is basically equal and there is little to no discord among the people. In fact, no one really knows about pain and suffering. Yes, you might slam your finger in the door but someone will come right over to give you pain relief. But, true pain is unknown. War, famine, political unrest – none of these exist in this world.
What do you give up for this utopia? Pretty much all free will. The government tells you when to play, what you are going to do with your life, who will be your mate. And, by mate, I simply mean companion as you are also required to take pills that eliminate all of your ‘urges’.
I avoid online political discussions at all costs as I think those are best left for debate in person. However, I do believe that no matter your political leanings, The Giver is thought-provoking. If we are going to give the government power over certain aspects of our lives, we should consider the long-term benefits and dangers. I’m sure there are those that have no issue with government control if it means peace. Others would fight to the death to avoid living under someone else’s thumb.
The Giver is the person who holds all of the negative memories of the world. He is charged with remembering what it is to die during a war or freeze to death during an avalanche. Yes, he keeps some good memories too but the weight of the negative ones is a hardship few can endure.
Jonas’ story doesn’t have a happy ending. If you want that, you should go read some Dr. Seuss.
5/5 stars for a book I will give to all of my nieces and nephews.