Friday, December 9, 2011

The Giver - Book Review

Although I spent most of my free time with a book, I can't remember much of what I read in junior high (other than Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and Jane Eyre). The other books from that era must have been blocked in my mind with the rest of my junior high memories. I spent the three years of high school reading from the "100 books list" my teacher assigned. I loved many and snoozed through others. I still have the photo copied list. I'm still working on reading all the books on it. For fun, I read all the Jack Weyland novels (possibly why I just can not bring myself to read LDS fiction now).

Essentially, I didn't read Young Adult Literature when I was a young adult. For years I didn't know I had missed anything. What I realize now is that I lacked the adult that could steer me toward enjoyable but well written and thought provoking novels for young adults. My English teacher was busy pushing the classics and I can't fault her for that. The school librarian was more of a multi-media manager and while I liked him and spent hours in the library, I can't remember him ever suggesting a book. My parents weren't big readers at the time and my "adult friend/YW leader" was letting me borrow her Jack Weyland novels.

This is what I regret now as I discover amazingly well written Young Adult novels such as The Giver by Lois Lowry (I do remember reading her Anastasia books). During a conversation with a friend last week who had borrowed and read my copies of the Hunger Games trilogy, she asked if I had ever read The Giver. I had not. Neal is assigned to read Lowry's novel Number the Stars this month for school, so while I was buying it, I added The Giver to the order.

The Giver is a dystopian novel. Published in 1993, it predates the current popular dystopian novels and it is obvious that it inspired at least a few of them. Living in a "utopian" society, Jonas and all the other twelve year old children are given their work assignments at a ceremony. Surprisingly, Jonas's assignment is a great and rare honor. He will be the new Receiver of Memories. The former Receiver becomes The Giver as he transfers all the memories to Jonas.

The Giver is cerebral. It has depth and symbolism and irony and wit and could have inspired a very interesting discussion in my high school English class (I graduated in 1993, so I would have missed it even if my teacher had included Young Adult lit in her curriculum). It is a beautiful novel--one that I will suggest to all the young and old adults within my meager influence.


alisonwonderland said...

The Giver is one of my all-time favorites!

Ashley said...

I read this book in school and really liked it. I actually just bought a copy a couple weeks ago so I could read it again!