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How would you like to live in a world where everyone is equal and where there is neither suffering nor war, neither hunger nor pain?
Who wouldn’t, right?
Who Should Read “The Giver”? And Why?
“You cannot write for children,” said once Maurice Sendak smartly. “They’re much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.”
And as we state below in our critical review, “The Giver” is one of the best and most influential children’s books ever written. If you know anything about children’s books, you know that this makes “The Giver” an even more important book for the adult you.
On top of that, “The Giver” is one of the most frequently challenged books in history. And, say what you want, but most of the great books have been at some stage of history. “Lowry’s exceptional use of metaphors and subtle complexity make it a book that will be discussed, debated and challenged for years to come.”
Read it not to find out why.
But to enjoy it.
And question almost everything you know about the world and want from life and your future.
Lois Lowry Biography
Lois Lowry (born Lois Ann Hammersberg) is an American writer with a mixed Norwegian and English/German ancestry. She is widely considered one of the greatest children’s writers in the history of literature.
In fact, she is one of the very few American authors who have won the “Newbery Medal” twice, once in 1990 for “Number the Stars” and another time in 1994 for “The Giver.”
In addition, she has been nominated three times for the Hans Christian Award, making to the shortlist of finalists on two separate occasions (2000 and 2016).
Remember that time when you were 11 years old and you were anxious about your upcoming birthday because your destiny was about to be sealed?
Well, maybe because you’re not living in the world Jonas, the protagonist in “The Giver” lives. To say the least – other than the fact that there is some Ceremony of Twelve which looks much fancier than most of your birthdays – it’s not a nice world.
Even though there are no such things as pain, suffering, and war.
Because, in addition, there are also no such things as music and love.
And even color!
In fact, that is why, the first few scenes of the trailer for the 2014 adaptation of “The Giver” looks as if it is a 1964 adaptation:
The reason why Jonas’ 12th birthday is such a big deal is because the people in this world find out their profession at this exact age.
Yes – there are no such things as individual freedom in Jonas’ world!
And, at the ceremony of his 12th birthday, after much anxiety, Jonas finds out that – due to his unusually light eyes (we believe Bonnie Tyler would have asked Jonas to turn around) – he has been “selected” to be The Receiver of Memory.
Sounds like both a cool and important profession, right?
That’s because it is!
In fact, it is possibly the most important one – other than being the Chief Elder because that means that Meryl Streep will play you in the movie adaptation.
But, why would anyone need a Receiver of Memory, let alone a whole world?
Well, because – did we mention? – in the world of Jonas people have no memories of the past. And someone needs to keep them.
So, Jonas goes to the current Receiver and starts his training. And that’s where the book title comes from.
Because, as we learned from Friends’ Joey, receiving goes hand in hand with giving.
And now that Jonas is about to become The Receiver of Memory, the current holder of the position must become The Giver.
Jonas isn’t allowed by the Elders to discuss his training. To make this thing easier for him, the Elders allow him to lie and even ask whatever he wants whoever he wants.
And then it all goes downhill.
Not because of the lies and the questions.
But because of the fact that Jonas suddenly realizes that his – and everybody else’s – whole life has been an unquestioned lie.
You see, Jonas goes way beyond becoming a Grandmaster of Memory, receiving all the memories of humanity. And these include some which precede the existence of the dystopian community he currently lives in.
Yes, some of them are difficult to be endured (pain, war, etc.), but some are beautiful and (might we add) colorful. Like the first among them: him sledding down a hill…
(Oh, that felt so warm!)
Just think about it: for the first time in his life, Jonas is able to live through some intimations of things as beautiful as music and love:
Now, through the memories, he had seen oceans and mountain lakes and streams that gurgled through woods; and now he saw the familiar wide river beside the path differently. He saw all of the light and color and history it contained and carried in its slow-moving water; and he knew that there was an Elsewhere from which it came, and an Elsewhere to which it was going.
These memories come with the tragic realization that the others will never have the chance of even knowing about them!
And no one will ever experience them!
And we’d like to add italic to that: really, why?
Jonas is flabbergasted.
This world is a sham. And he must do something about it.
Fortunately, he learns from the Giver that once someone is “released” from the community Elsewhere, his memories are passed on everybody in it. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when Rosemary, the Giver’s previous apprentice and your very own Taylor Swift in the movie version, “released” herself.
Oh – don’t be such a disgusting person!
It’s actually quite tragic.
Released – as Jonas is about to learn – is the community’s euphemistic way of saying “killed.” And that’s exactly what Rosemary did to herself once she learned what Jonas is learning at the moment.
And, moreover, that’s exactly what the Elders do to old folks and sick children.
Speaking of which, Jonas’ father (technically, though not biologically: there’s no such thing as sex in the community) is about to kill one such sick child. That’s, in fact, his job at the Nurturing Center.
Being unable to cure one boy whose name was supposed to be Gabriel – if he had made it – he’s preparing to “release” him at the same time that Jonas is planning to fake his own death and escape to Elsewhere, thus infecting the world with his memories.
Unlike Rosemary, he has a lot of them.
You can imagine the effect yourself.
And you can imagine Jonas’ sadness now that he has them once he learns that his father is about to kill Gabriel.
Especially once he finds out that, just like him, he has pale eyes as well.
The Giver Epilogue
Sometime later, Jonas is biking away to Elsewhere.
He’s not alone: Gabriel is with him.
Also, he hasn’t prepared too well – because they have no food or anything. And they are basically starving.
Jonas tries to transmit some memories of beautiful things to Gabriel hoping that they will keep them alive.
And they do – until they reach one hill. It looks familiar to Jonas. And even more familiar once he gets to the top and finds a sled.
Yes – that’s the first memory he received from The Giver!
Now, Jonas is convinced that at the bottom of the hill is Elsewhere – and the new beginning for him, Gabriel and his whole community.
However, the reader is not as convinced, wondering if Jonas is suffering from hunger and hypothermia.
So, either he’s going straight to his death or to a new life.
The novel ends chillingly and ambiguously:
For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing.
Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.
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“The Giver PDF Quotes”The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared. Click To Tweet If you were to be lost in the river, Jonas, your memories would not be lost with you. Memories are forever. Click To Tweet For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too Click To Tweet We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others. Click To Tweet It's the choosing that's important, isn't it? Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
There are few books more famous in the world of young adult novels than “The Giver.” In fact, according to a 2012 U.S. survey, only three books – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Wrinkle in Time,” and “Charlotte’s Web” – can be considered better children’s books than “The Giver.”
But you may already know that, because “The Giver” has won about seven hundred awards and is basically in all of middle school reading lists.
If it wasn’t on yours – don’t watch the movie before you read this book.
Believe us: you’ll love it.