AUTHOR: Lois Lowry
GENRE: Fiction, Young Adult
PUBLISHED: April 1993
This haunting story centers on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he’s given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
The Giver describes this “utopian” world which lacks color, music, emotions. People don’t feel what is pain, guilt, anger, pleasure. They suppress their emotions. They don’t have the memories of colors, music, emotions and so they cannot see or feel them. They have no free will. No individuality. Everything is ordered, predictable, and controlled.
But also there is no more crime, war, poverty, hunger in the community because of the lifestyle they follow.
They have no memory of ever feeling like that. Of feeling anything different.
All these memories are kept by one person, called the Receiver, who is not allowed to tell anyone about them.
The community has scary rules like the “release” of a person, deciding a kid’s profession when they are 12. I thought it would be an easy, all happy read, but then BAM! BAM! The true nature of the community comes out!
Jonas’s character development is really great. How he goes from being a kid, who trusts every word of everyone in the community, to being an adult (according to the book. But he is still 13) who feels angry, betrayed, and wants to save his community.
To save the community, Jonas goes on a journey for Elsewhere. I assumed Elsewhere to be a memory of sorts or imagined world, but the book often refers to it as a place. The ending of the book is left for the reader to interpret which in a way also tells the main theme of the book…
“It’s the choosing that’s important, isn’t it?”