Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reading: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Books are forced upon us as kids – that is a fact.  We are given books to read from the age of 7 to 18 and expected to read them, understand them, analysis them, and possibly write papers on them.  The Giver is one of those books that fits into the school curriculum for young readers.  If you've been reading my blog, you know I have read another book by the author, Lois Lowry, in school (Number the Stars) but I was never handed the Giver in class.  I heard my peers who went to different elementary schools speak (and rave) of the book and I saw it a lot on posters and shelves in the library but I never really had the urge to read it as a kid.  Then, about two months ago, I spotted the book on a shelf in a thrift store.  I figured "what the heck" and I bought it for a quarter. 
            The Giver is a story about a boy named Jonas (is it sad that the first thing that came to my mind was the Jonas Brothers??) who lives in a black and white society.  Oh, and another thing, the society has no idea they are black and white!  The Giver takes place in the future where law makers have long since decided to make a safe world for humans to reside in – one where everyone is the same.  Each family has two children, a boy and a girl; each family has food delivered to their doors at a certain time; each child receives a bike at age 9, and each child is given a career based on the law makers observation at the age of 12.  Jonas is turning 12 this year and for his career he is assigned a very rare and important job – the receiver.  The receiver is a very secret job where Jonas goes to be with the Giver who transfers memories and feeling into Jonas's black and white world.
            I found the Giver to be somewhat of a horrifying novel while also redeeming.  It started off very slow and by chapter six or seven I was beginning to wonder what the events had to do with the title.  Once the title became apparent, I became much more entranced by the novel.  Jonas's learning about being brainwashed was heartbreaking and real.  I became so involved with this book that when I put it down I had to remind myself that it was just a book!  The memories the Giver showed Jonas were memories all readers can relate to in some way.  The novel itself raises many questions and definitely points at the fact that differences are what makes a society. 
            While I liked the story as a whole, I do have a few complaints.  For starters, the book did start off really slow but I can't really count that against the book since the explanation seems to be needed.  I also found the ending to be a bit too quick.  It ended with promise but at the same time I wasn't sure if that promise was made up in my head or not.  I definitely wanted to see more but instead of all this fun action, it felt like Lowry just became bored and decided to choose an easy ending.  However, I did like that (SPOILER) Jonas saved Gabe.  The idea of him being released was very scary and Jonas was very selfless.
            In the end, I really enjoyed this book.  It wasn't a favorite but it definitely raised many questions and I like when books can be so powerful.  I will give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

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