Book Club Pick: August 2015
Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Series: First novel in the Giver Quartet
Country: United States of America
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books
First Published: 1993
“I have a great honor,” the Giver said. “So will you. But you will find that it not the same as power.”
Life in the community where Jonas lives in idyllic. Designated birthmothers produce new children, who are assigned to appropriate family units: one male, one female, to each. Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs. No one thinks to ask questions. Everyone obeys. The community is a precisely, choreographed world without conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment, injustice . . . or choice.
Everyone is the same.
At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community’s twelve-year-olds eagerly accept their predetermined life Assignments. Bur Jonas is chosen fro something special. He begins instruction in his life’s work with a mysterious old man known only as the Giver. Gradually Jonas learns that power lies in feelings. But when his own power is put to the test – he may not be ready. Is it too soon? Or too late?
The novel opens with eleven-year-old Jonas awaiting his Ceremony of Twelve, where he will be assigned his career and begin his training.
Jonas lives in a community where a group of Elders select everything including one’s parents, career, spouse and children. All the negative aspects of society have been removed and the community lives in a safe world of sameness, but unfortunately many of the positive aspects of life have also been removed.
At his Ceremony of Twelve Jonas is assigned the position of Receiver of Memory. The Receiver holds all the memories of the past that include both pleasant and painful ones. The idea is by having the Receiver, the community is not burdened with this knowledge.
During his training sessions the current Receiver of Memory, and now Giver of Memory transfers the memories of the past, that include positive memories like the excitement of riding a sled in the snow but also painful memories like war, famine and death.
As Jonas begins to experience these memories he learns some shocking secrets about the how the community is managed and begins to question the world he is living in.
The novel has a rather ambiguous ending, which while hopefully will leave readers in thought may frustrate some.
The Giver won the 1994 Newbery Medal and is frequently included on top young adult literature lists, but it is also one of the top 25 most frequently challenged or banned books in America.
A film adaptation was released in 2014 starring Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.
Source: I borrowed a copy of this book from my public library.