The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giverJonas lives in a world where everything is perfect and everything is chosen for him. In his utopian society, people would grow up and their occupation is chosen for them. Who they would marry is chosen for them. Their birthday is chosen too. In fact, everything is chosen. It looks perfect from outside. No war, no fights, no hunger, nothing. The society relinquishes these things in order to make room for total peace and safety; striving for perfection.

Everything in this society is controlled by “the Elders,” right down from the beginning when the baby is born till he/she gets “release”. Individual identity has gone and everyone is essentially just like everyone else. In theory, there would be complete peace and prosperity if all problems relating to differences in human beings were eliminated. It might seem perfect if government had laws that ensured this, but I think, this book, The Giver, conveys important messages that reveal the many flaws underneath the surface of this idea.

Meet Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy. In the beginning of the story, on Jonas’ twelfth birthday, he gets assigned a profession. Among all the occupations in the community, he is chosen to be a Receiver; someone who holds the memories of things that happen in the past. No one except the one and only Receiver and his mentor (called “the Giver”) will be allowed to share it to anyone.

When Jonas was young, he and the rest of the citizens of the community do not experience love and family. Music, emotion, season, climate, and colors are unknown to them. Family units consists of a man, a woman, and two children; without any extending family unit at all. They use the word “release” instead of “death”. In this perfect community, people are never exposed to pain. Elderly are released before they becomes ill, so everyone is equal in health. Only the Giver and Receiver know that “release” means death.

The very first memory, Jonas receives is that of sledding down a hill in the snow. While Jonas gets “to see” the memories of plenty of fun things like birthday parties, he also has to deal with the bad memories that humans faced in the past, such as loss, violence, poverty, death, hunger, and warfare. And because of that, that is how Jonas completely changes the way he looks at his world. When he knows that one identical twin is released because of its size, he is shocked and deeply saddened. He can’t inform anybody about it, because he’s bounded by the restriction and law upon his shoulder as the Receiver.

I agree with Jonas when he and the Giver devise a plan: Jonas will fake his own death and run away to Elsewhere. The memory that Jonas receives, will release back to the people living in the community. I can imagine everyone have to deal with the pain when they understand what it means to have choices. They would be as free as the bird. I don’t want to spoil the ending of the book. You have to use your imagination to convince the ending.

Lois Lowry born in the year 1937. She won two Newbery Medal for The Giver in 1993 despite controversy and criticism that the book’s subject material. In 1994, people still think that The Giver is inappropriate for young children. According to American Library Association’s list, The Giver is the most challenged books of the 1990s. I read in the news that its film adaptation finally began production on October 2013, with singer Taylor Swift in one of its supporting roles. Its release date has been set for August 15, 2014. Hell yeah!


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