Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publication Date: 1993
Summary: Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.
A YA OG
If you are a fan of the current explosion and reverie for YA novels, then you have to give respect to one of the originals. The Giver has everything we love about popular YA books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, but The Giver did it first. The book is the first in a four-book series (Check!), it tells what could be in a not too distant dystopian future (Check!), and the protagonist is a chosen special who is different from the others (Check!).
The main difference is the protagonist being a young boy, which in the sea of YA books starring girls and young women feels refreshing, for lack of a better word. The negative, which tends to be a trope in many dystopian YA stories, is the future seems to lack people of color. When I read “Sameness,” it brought “Whiteness” to my imagination, and that is always disappointing.
The Second Time Around
I haven’t read this book since middle school, and it was so great to revisit it in adulthood. In fact, I feel like it is definitely one of those books that all of us should read again if you haven’t read it since childhood. One of the most startling aspects of the book this time around was how young 12 is in the totality of one’s life. It was shocking and disheartening that childhood in Jonas’s community ends at 12 when the children are given their life assignments. Can you imagine being told at 12 what you will do for the rest of your life?!
Plus, in the case of Jonas, his life’s work of being The Receiver is the most to ask of someone so young. I’m sliding towards 40, and I still want to do so many other things with my life! And can you imagine your childhood being essentially over at 12?! I’m still trying to reclaim my childhood! I remember being moved by the book in middle school, but reading it this time around put me into all of my feels.
I understand why The Giver is required reading in many middle schools, but I also think it should be required reading for adults. It’s absolutely perfect for family book club because it would lead to terrific discussion in how adults and how young adults respond to the book’s themes.
The Final Grade
Page Turner: This book won the Newbery Medal for good reasons. It is smart, emotional, and thought provoking. I always love books geared to kids that don’t talk down to them, and The Giver is definitely one of those books.
So…when is the last time you read The Giver? What was your dream job at 12? At what age do you think childhood ends? Let us know in the comments! |RL
P.S. Want more of The Giver? Read the movie review!