Review Blog

Oct 02 2009

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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HarperCollins, 2008. ISBN 9780007263516.
(Ages: 11+) Highly recommended. When The Giver first appeared in 1993, adults and children alike read it and loved it, and applauded when it won The Newbery Award later that year. The book has since been used as a class text, a community read, whole towns reading it, and as a base for curriculum and has often been reprinted. And no wonder. It is a modern classic, telling a dystopian tale which will have students and staff alike discussing the world Lowry creates, postulating futures for the main character and the child, discussing the ending over and over again.
Jonas lives in a closed community where he is safe and secure. His sister and parents know there are other places, Elsewhere, but are content with their lives. At the age of 12, all children in this community are given their Assignments, to train for their future work. Jonas is looking forward to this with some trepidation. He can see that his friends have a path which will result in their assignment being given them which suits them, but he is at a loss. He has no such path, he does not have one over riding interest. When he is chosen as the Receiver of Memory, he feels inadequate.
But to receive the community's memories is painful. He must learn all the things that they have no memory of, the pain of loss, loneliness, fear, war as well as love and tenderness, sunshine and cold. For his community has no idea of these things. It has been built on Sameness. Older people and babies who do not fit, are Released, and when Jonas finds out what this entails, he must take action. What he does with the memories he receives is riveting. The story will grab the readers and put them through all the fears that Jonas feels, and cause a great deal of debate in classrooms where it is read.
Fran Knight

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