The Giver is a Newbery Medal winning novel written by the influential children’s and young adult author Lois Lowry. It tells the tale of Jonas, a boy who has lived his life in a world of perfectly crafted monotony, in a community of people who look similar to him, learn the same things as he does, and only know the world in one way- their Community, the small, enclosed city where everyone receives their role and spouse and children. He is chosen, at the age of twelve, to be an apprentice to the man known only as The Receiver- the man chosen to hold all the memories of the past, with all their pain and all of their joy. The Receiver is the one called upon to recall the memories of the past and find the wisest path in the face of a decision, and the current one is growing old and needs an heir to his title. Jonas embarks on a task that completely changes his world- as he starts to receive memories, he starts to experience things like love and colour for the first time. As he learns through tremendous joy and pain, Jonas begins to discover the sickening truths behind his Community- and starts to learn how potent the past can be.
The Giver is one of the most beautiful and moving books I have ever read. It is set in a world profoundly strange to us- there is no colour, no love, and everything is controlled. Everything is alien to our sensibilities, yet Lowry draws her readers into the mind and worldview of Jonas effortlessly. It has a sense of simple grandeur uncommon among the books that typically make it to the top of the Young Adult charts, and its heartbreaking yet ambivalent end sticks in its readers’ minds like a photograph. Jonas is at once a naïve boy and a beacon of hope for the triumph of love and emotion, and the background characters, while understandably bland, still feel real in a way.
Lois Lowry has been called the godmother of YA dystopia, and The Giver is unquestionably a shining example of her skill in telling moving stories about surreal and painful circumstances. Readers of dystopias will love experiencing the genre in its early days and exploring the roots of newer books like Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. Regardless of usual taste, The Giver is an important read for all young fiction fans.
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