Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
So last weekend I decided to reread The Giver because of the movie based on the book opening August 15th. The Giver is a staple book taught in middle school English classes through out the United States and I first read it when in my early teens. I can still remember the feelings enticed by the novel despite having read it over 15 years ago. Frustration and slight confusion. But The Giver made me think and I felt it was the perfect time to reread the childhood classic.
Side note: This will not be a review that breaks down Lowery’s inner messages. I am not going to provide any political accusation or lectures on morality. I suggest you browse the Goodreads comment section if that is what you are searching for. I am going to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the novel and how my perceptions of the content has changed since reading it again.
So first things first, The Giver is a children’s book so it lacks the depth and description that most adult readers would look for. Lowery does leave a number of nuances unexplained, or explained in a fashion that leaves a reader craving more information, but the descriptive language is good for a children’s novel. I vividly remember my excitement at Jonas seeing the color red. I remember the tears brought on by Jonas’ confusion and the realization of the true meaning of release. I remember being quite peeved at the vague ending and rereading it brought these memories back in full force. Now I am able to digest all of the small details, such as ribbons, jackets, and comfort animals, that I missed in that first reading. Focusing on these details allowed me to realize the lack of wonder Lowery’s world contains.
The Giver is a dystopian novel, and like all dystopian novels, contains messages concerning society, morality, politics, and the author’s concern for the future. Just remember that the author’s ethnocentricity courses through the pages; this is why I will not touch the subjects mentioned in the side note. I recommend The Giver to readers of all ages because Lowery inspires her readers to observe and learn about the world and society that surrounds them. Forget the moral issues concerning release; forget the accusations that this book calls for young readers to rise against their parents and government. The Giver forces readers to recognize the small pleasures we have in life, such as seeing colors and hearing music, and it pushes readers to search for both the positive and negative attributes of an ideal or situation before forming opinions. A prime example is when the Giver reminds Jonas of the helpful effects of the community, no poverty, war, or starvation, when Jonas verbally bashes the society for the restriction of true individuality and quests of enlightenment. The Giver pushes you to think.
So that is my brief take on the novel. It is a tad bit more deep than most of my reviews but I felt with was necessary considering this is a book taught to kids. Definitely take a look, or a second look, at The Giver. How do you feel about The Giver? Who else is going to see the movie?