The Giver. Most of us read it in school and hated having to do a book report on it. However, this is one of those books you really should revisit this summer. This book is smart, quick, and twisting. Lowry spins a story so compelling, you’ll want to read it in one sitting, and then finish up with the three other books in the series. This review gives quite a few spoilers, so if you’re not down for that, just go get the book and read it. Otherwise, read on for a full review of The Giver, spoilers and all.
Jonas is an eleven, soon to be twelve, year old boy. He and his family live in this utopia-like city where everyone is equal. In a future world, where strife, unhappiness, hunger, poverty, unemployment, inequality, and all the other things that make our current world so tough, Jonas lives. He’s never known cold, or hot weather. Never stressed or wanted for anything. Everything in this world is perfect. Except for one thing. Jonas is about to be twelve, and that is when people are given their life assignment from the Elders. He’s worried about what position they will give him. The only thing outstanding about him is his pale eyes; a rarity in his world. He does stumble onto something though.
While playing catch with an apple, he notices that it shimmers and changes colors for a brief moment. Wondering what this could possibly mean, he accidentally takes the apple home, which brings about shame when it is announced community wide that “someone” took it without proper permission. Admitting he took it at family talk time is bad enough, but now he has to face the community at large who will tut and titter at his infraction.
At least he has something good to take his mind off of everything. His father brought home a baby, Gabriel, who needs special care, and this boy has pale eyes just like Jonas. Jonas does his best not to get too attached, but he does begin to wonder the significance of pale eyes, glimmering apples, and his life assignment.
The day of the ceremony, he watches as his friends are given perfect assignments. Jonas’ assignment leaves him reeling. He’s been given the life assignment of Receiver of Memory, and is to report to a man known only as The Giver. As soon as he meets The Giver, Jonas’ life is turned upside down. Nothing is as it seems, and he soon realizes the perfect utopia he grew up in is nothing short of a sham. He is given new rules to follow, none of which make sense in the world he has known.
Upon his first visit, The Giver tells Jonah that he is to receive all the memories of the collected community that have ever been. Mercifully, he starts off easily, giving Jonah happy memories of snow, beaches, rainbows and the like. Over the course of time, Jonah can now see the full spectrum of color, while his friends and family cannot. While alarmed, this is not yet his tipping point.
Jonah’s father comes home and tells of a set of twins that were born where he works as a nurturer. One of the twins is due to be released by Jonah’s father who must decide who is the superior twin. Jonah requests to see the release, and while everyone around him discourages him to, he goes and witnesses something he could have never imagined. The twin is “released” by a lethal injection, and then sent to the garbage. Jonah’s father has no idea of the severity of what he is doing, but Jonah does and is horrified.
Now that Jonah is aware of everything that was, and everything that is, he comes to The Giver with a plan. They both decide that the time for change is now and the community as a whole needs all of their memories back. No longer should one person be burdened with the past. They hatch a plan for Jonah to leave, thus forcing the memories to be released back into the community. Jonah is on pins and needles waiting for the day.
The night before he leaves, his father announces that the baby, Gabriel, that has been with the family for a year is set to be released the next day. This shifts Jonah’s escape plan dramatically, forcing him to take drastic action to save the child. In the middle of the night, he sneaks out with Gabriel, borrowing his father’s bike for easy commute.
They reach the border of what is known as Elsewhere, where freedom and uncertainty await. Using his new found ability that he doesn’t understand to “see beyond” Jonah sees a sled waiting them atop a mountain. They trek through the snow and cold to find that sled. As they climb aboard, Jonah gives his last bit of strength to push off. Jonah and Gabriel’s trip ends outside of a house filled with lights, a fire, and a Christmas tree.
This book, while a simple read, kept me enthralled from the start. Lowry is a master storyteller, and this is just another classic. Yes, I know The Giver is aimed towards children, but it really is much deeper than you would first think. Some of the story is very predictable, as you would expect for a book that is only 192 pages.
However, Lowry leaves you with an open end, which can be quite frustrating. I mean, it’s all fine and dandy to let us know that they made it out. But where did they make it to? What is their life now? A mystery to be solved, and plenty of questions. Luckily there are three other books in this series to help solve the questions. I can’t express how much I enjoyed this book. It is well worth the read on a summer day. The rest of the series are equally as good, and have an ending you would never expect.
Have I mentioned that this book is also becoming a movie? No? It is! This August 15th!