Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver
by Lois Lowry
1993
*****
5 stars - don't mind that this is a "young person's" book, it's still great

ALR Blue - animals only in memory, that's part of the point of the novel


This book went into my queue some months back after I heard an interview with Lois Lowry on All Things Considered. Ms. Lowry writes books for young people, but she believes in challenging them and this slim volume does that and even gave this far from young person some things to think about.

I'm having a hard time coming up with a synopsis that isn't also a spoiler, so I'm going to revert to the dust cover.

" 'It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.'

"Thus opens this haunting novel in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world: a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life.

"December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man - the man called only the Giver - he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of the world."

What? No conflict, poverty, inequality, etc.? Sounds great to me. NOT! At least in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it seems like every time some tragic accident happens, there is a rush to make rules so that bad thing will never happen again. The result of which, is many laws so stifling that the joy of adventure is removed from the many to avoid the inevitable human screw up of the few. Laws and more laws. Laws about how to behave, how to be human, laws that numb the spirit.

Jonas sums things up nicely in this statement that sent shivers down my spine "We really have to protect people from the wrong choices."

So you can see where this is going and I think it's great that Lois Lowry is so popular. Plus she doesn't smack you over the head with her points. The book provides more questions than answers and plenty of fodder for discussion.

The Giver is the first in a series entitled "The Quartet." Each book only takes a couple of hours to read, so I've gone ahead and popped the lot to the front of my reading queue.

5 comments:

  1. Third time lucky. Don't know what the heck is happening but my comments keep disappearing. I'll add this to my reading list. I've lost my reading mojo. I don't seem to be able to finish my books and they are scattered over the house unfinished. I've read and enjoyed books all my life so I'm after that one book to get me back in the saddle. I might have to go through all your five star ratings. My daughter gave me a book of short stories (she bought it for the Jim Butcher story) called Dangerous Women, edited by George R R Martin and Gardner Dozois which has been good. Maybe I need to sit at the library and soak up those smells of aged books.

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  2. Thank you. I enjoy "young adult" (read: teen lit of old?) series and will be adding this to my list ASAP.

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  3. I read that in high school and loved it! It's a book that really stays with you, too!

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  4. Your commentary about laws upon laws rings so true. Society simply cannot protect everyone from all of their impulses, good or bad, just by declaring that something cannot be done. In the process, people's right to somewhat questionable behavior is trampled as well. I've read a lot of kid, teen and young adult books in the past couple of decades, and sometimes those are real thought-provokers, as you've aptly discussed here.

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  5. Hmm, this sounds interesting, and dang but it has a giant medal on the cover! I might have to obtain a sample for later ...

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