Friday, October 12, 2007

A World Without Differences???



The Giver by Lois Lowry (208 pgs, Houghton Mifflin) won the Newberry Award in 1994. (On a side note, it also won the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Award in 1996 which is an award sponsored by the state of Illinois!) I picked it up for both the Newberry Challenge AND the Dystopian Challenge. I'm certainly glad I did!


"It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened." And so starts the story of a boy that is growing up in a time and place where sameness is the way only way of life. There is no such thing as choice. When a child is born, it is placed in the hands of a Nurturer. The child isn't even named until December. Every December, there is a ceremony celebrating the year's in the life of a child. The newchild is placed with it's new family...one that is chosen for that child. Every family unit is allowed 2 children. One boy and one girl. No more, no less. As the years progress, so do the ceremonies. At 8, the child is allowed to start his volunteer hours. At 9, the child is given his bike. And at 12, the child is given his Assignment. This assignment is the job you are going to do for the rest of your life.

Jonas is nervous about the 12's Ceremony this year because he is to be assigned, and he has no idea what that assignment will be. As he sits in his position waiting, he hears the assignments of all his friends. But Jonas assignment is one that is a surprise to everyone. He is assigned to be the next "Receiver of Memories". It's one of the highest honors in the Community.

When Jonas starts his training, he meets "The Giver", the man he is replacing as a Receiver of Memories. The Giver must "give" memories to Jonas. And not just memories of the Community, but memories that have been passed from Receiver to Receiver. He is given memories of color, because there is no longer color in the world of Sameness. He is given beautiful memories of snow and family and love, all things that he has never really experienced before. But when Jonas is shown what it really means to be released, he must find the courage within himself to try to change the way of life for one newchild that is about to be released.

I thought this book was wonderful. I like dystopian books anyway. But Lowry has created a world that is structured and filled with sameness. A world that is hard to imagine. She shows us that even though the world we live in right now is filled with tough choices, at least we HAVE the right to choose. Maybe we make the wrong choice sometimes, but the alternative is not really better. And she has created a compassionate, loving and courageous character in Jonas. A character that should be admired. I can see why this book won the Newberry!! I think all young adults should read this one. 4.5/5

Also reviewed by:
Kristi @ Passion for the Page

16 comments:

Kristy said...

I read this book recently too. Great minds think alike!

Chris said...

I loved this book! I'm definitely adding Lowry on my "need to read more books by author" list. Gossamer sounds like a really cool book. Nicola reviewed it for the RIP challenge, and I think I'll pick it up soon.

Stephanie said...

Kristy - Exactly my thought!!

Chris - This is the first Lowry book that I've ever read. But I can see I'm going to read more. I read somewhere this is actually the first in a series, so I'm going to look for the rest. I also just finshed Bridge to Terabithia. I'll have to put a review up for that one tomorrow. I haven't met a Newberry yet that I've disliked!

Booklogged said...

I love The Giver. I heard Lois Lowry talk a couple years ago and learned at that time that there were two companion books to The Giver. Garthering Blue and Messenger are definitely worth reading.

I have a girl in my study skills class who just read The Giver and now is reading Gathering Blue. It's so fun to hear her comments as she gets to certain parts.

Your book hasn't arrived yet, but I'm sure it will get her soon. Thank-you, Stephanie.

3M said...

Do read Gathering Blue and Messenger as well. The Giver is by far the best, but the other two are well worth reading.

John Mutford said...

I read this not long ago as well and was very impressed. Without giving away too much, what did you think of the ending?

Dewey said...

I love this book and have read it several times. The thing that really makes it stand out is that the first time I read it, I was drawn into that society, liking it, finding so many aspects of it really cool. And then! Well, no spoilers here in your comment. But you know what I mean!

Dewey said...

How weird; blogger gave me an error message and said it was unable to post my comment, but when I came back to try again, there's my comment!

naida said...

I have to read this one. Great review :)

Kristen said...

Great review. :) I read The Giver over and over as a child and it's one of the few books that I think would truly change any young adult who read it for the better.

Stephanie said...

Booklogged - You should get your book soon. I mailed it on Wed. I can see why everyone loves this book! It really is great! And I will definitely be reading the next two!

3M - I'm glad the other 2 are good! They are definitely on my list!

John - I am usually one that likes endings to be cut and dried. But I did like this ending, although I would have liked to know a little more! I thought it was a really good book!

Dewey - I know! I actually thought it was a pretty cool way of living...for a little while. Then you find out some stuff that was really tough to swallow. I guess I would hate not having any choices to make.

Naida - Thanks!!

Kristin - Thanks! I think you are right. Kids could really learn alot from this book!

Trish said...

I've been wanting to read this book for a long time because I've heard great things about it, but I never actually knew what it was about until I read your review. Sounds fantastic. I loved Lowry's "Number The Stars" when I was younger.

Les said...

I read this a few years ago and absolutely LOVED it! It was in my Top Ten for that year and I keep meaning to re-read it. It's short and quick, so I'm not sure why I haven't done so. I'd also like to read Gathering Blue and Messenger.

Rhinoa said...

I skimmed your review as I am about to start reading this myself. I just read Number the Stars by the same author and really enjoyed it. I loved her Anastasia series when I was growing up and re-read them at the beginning of this year.

Virginie said...

I really loved this book, th way you can control the spirits. It made me think of 1984 in a way, for example the control of language, and everything... That makes me shiver...

alisonwonderland said...

great review! The Giver is an all-time favorite of mine. i haven't read Gathering Blue or Messenger yet, but i definitely intend to someday.