the wonderful world of veena.

16 July 2014

book review: the giver [lois lowry]

Every now and then I like to read or re-read children's classics. A few years ago I re-read The Borrowers and loved it, and I just recently read The Giver by Lois Lowry.

The Giver is now a staple in elementary and middle school classrooms, but because it was published in 1993, I just missed reading it while I was in school. I have been hearing about it for 20 years, but I had never read it until now. It's been on my list for years, but it took seeing the trailer for the upcoming film to finally kick my butt into gear.

The Giver tells the story of Jonas, a 12-year-old who lives in a community enveloped by Sameness. Everyone goes about their routine the same way each day while knowing that each day will be remarkably similar to the one before. Memories don't exist of feelings, colours, emotions, anything. Everything is the Same and has been for generations.

Each year, when a new batch of students become Twelves, they are given their assigned role in the community. Each new Twelve is observed and evaluated by the Elders to find the assignment that best matches their personalities so that they can fit seamlessly into the existing Community.

When Jonas turns Twelve, it is announced that he has been selected to be the new Receiver for the Community, and thus he embarks on a journey that will change his life. He meets the Giver, the Elder who currently holds all the memories of past generations - of back and back and back - so that community members can continue on with their lives, never knowing pain or fear or happiness or love.

As Jonas explores his gift and begins receiving memories - good and bad, happy and sad - from the Giver, he begins questioning his Community's way of life. Suddenly he sees in colour. He knows the pain and terror of war. He understands the love of family. And he begins to wonder why people decided to shut those memories out and cocoon themselves in their bubble of Sameness.

These are dangerous thoughts to have, and The Giver explores how Jonas and the Giver respond to the new challenges they face.

I really enjoyed reading this one, and I have a feeling it will be one I come back to in future years. It's a short little read, but it's got a lot to think about.

And be sure to read it before the movie comes out later this year!

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