Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: The Giver

The Giver
by Lois Lowry
Houghton Mifflin Company 
ISBN 9780395645666
Release Date: 1993

Why did you choose this book? I have heard so many good things about this and it has been on my to-read list for awhile, so I was happy when it was chosen as the December selection for my book club
When did you read this book? December 2011
Who should read this book? fans of young adult, dystopian fiction; parents of students who will read this book
Here is a synopsis of ‘The Giver' from Goodreads, where it rates 4.11 stars.
Source: ebook borrowed through my local library
In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.
My Review 
This is the story of Jonas, a 12 year old growing up in the ‘perfect’ community. Everyone has plenty to eat and there is no crime. The elderly are well cared for. But the welfare of the community comes first. A council of elders assigns each person their job at age 12, spouses are assigned by the council, and after 3 years, if the match is deemed successful, they can petition for a child; 2 children maximum. And always a boy and a girl. Memories of the past may be painful and disruptive, so they are retained by only one person, the ‘Receiver of Memories’. This is the collective memory of the entire world, so only person in the community is allowed to know the past. Jonah is selected as the new ‘Receiver’ and the current receiver, the 'Giver', transmits the memories of the world to Jonas. Gradually, Jonas learns that his perfect community is not all he believes it to be. I enjoyed this book; it gave me a lot to think about.

My only beef is that the book ends pretty abruptly, and the ending is ambiguous. We don’t really know what happened. (Okay, I know...but only because I read the entire trilogy!) This is a quick read, but be warned, not everyone will enjoy this book. It is a book that has been controversial through the years. Some topics covered in the book include euthanasia and sexual feelings. I don’t think the controversy is about the content as much as about the age that is appropriate to make this an assigned reading. This has been assigned to classrooms as young as 5th grade. I think this is fine for ‘mature’ 5th graders, but many may not be ready for this. If your child is assigned this book, you may want to read it, too, so you can discuss it with them. There is a lot to discuss for kids AND adults. I think this book had led to some of  the best discussions are book club has had!
My Rating:  ★★★★ 4 Stars


  1. Ah, this was a fave of mine when I was little.

  2. I remember a lot of hype around this one when I was much younger. I've never picked it up, but it certainly seems like one that's become a sort of classic! One of these days I'll pick it up! It's nice to see a review on an older book. :)