Wednesday, July 8, 2009 by Alyce
by Lois Lowry
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: 2002 (Mass Market)
Fiction: Young Adult
Summary (from the publisher):
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 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.
The Giver is an amazing novel that lays out the details of a whole world in only 192 pages. It is so well crafted that every sentence and section work together not only to explain this strange world, but also to create an emotional impact upon the reader.
Jonas seems like any normal boy from our day and age, but the main difference lies in his surroundings. But not all is as it seems, and one by one the reader's assumptions of what is normal are stripped away as different aspects of the society are revealed.
At first those differences don't seem that strange. Things like yearly ceremonies where each age group advances to the next level of learning are similar enough to modern graduation ceremonies that they wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Other aspects (which I won't list here because I don't want to spoil it for anyone) are more surprising.
What I liked the most about this book was that it encompassed a whole world in such a short span of pages, and it made me feel deeply about the people of that world. I was hopeful for Jonas and his friends, and heartbroken over the lot of the Giver.
There were some aspects of the story that were not fully explained and so the reader is left to wonder how certain processes work (such as the transfer of memories). As long as you are able to accept that some things work a certain way without having an explanation of why they work that way, then it is no obstacle to enjoying the plot.
I highly recommend this book to everyone! It is going on my list of all time favorites. When I finished it I found myself thinking about it for days; pondering the ending and what it really meant. I found out that there are two sequels called Gathering Blue (which is a story with all different characters) and Messenger (which ties all of the books together) that clear up some of the ambiguity about the ending. I'm sure I will read them at some point, but right now I'm still mulling over and savoring the story of The Giver.
WINNER 1994 - Newbery Medal Winner
WINNER 1994 - ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER 1994 - ALA Notable Children's Book
WINNER 1996 - New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award
WINNER 1995 - Virginia Young Readers Program Award
WINNER 1995 - Arkansas Charlie May Simon Master List
NOMINEE 1995 - Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
WINNER 1996 - Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award
WINNER 1996 - Kansas William White Award
WINNER 1995 - Kentucky Bluegrass Master List
WINNER 1994 - Maine Student Book Award
NOMINEE 1997 - Colorado Children's Book Award
NOMINEE 1998 - Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
FINALIST 1994 - Massachusetts Children's Book Award
For information about Lois Lowry and her writing please visit her website.