Sunday, January 17, 2010

TSS - Review - The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry
published 1993
179 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

My thoughts:

Every time I read a book that has been widely banned or challenged, I find myself eagerly awaiting the part that makes it "bad" - I expect something salacious, with lots of language, or sexual situations, or violence - something tangible so I can say, "Oh, sure, that's why parents don't want their kids to read this book."

Except I didn't find anything. What I found was a thoughtful story about a young boy in a highly controlled society, who begins to understand what it's like to have freedom. At first, Jonas' world doesn't seem that different from our own. But little by little, I began to understand just how dangerous his Community really was.

Lowry does a brilliant job of revealing just what the reader need to know at the time - she doesn't ever give everything away, but slowly and methodically drops the hints that allow her readers to put the pieces together. She builds compassion for all her characters - there isn't a "bad guy", just people who have chosen a specific path. This book really is all about choices, and the consequences of those choices, and it leaves the reader with so much to think about. I think this would be an excellent book to discuss with a junior high-aged child - in fact, my edition has a discussion guide at the end with questions that I can imagine would generate good discussion among a group of adults.

So I was left with the question, why has this book been banned? I did some research on the internet, and found the following article - apparently The Giver has been called "the suicide book", and some parents feel it doesn't clearly explain that suicide is not the solution to life's problems. Personally, I don't think it presents either suicide or euthanasia - the other apparently controversial topic presented in the book - in favorable lights at all. But I'm curious - have you read the book? What did you think about Lowry's treatment of these issues?

I think The Giver is an excellent novel. I definitely recommend it - I don't think I'll soon forget it.

Finished: 1/10/10
Source: my shelves
Rating: 9/10

This book counts toward:

2010 Challenge - book 1/20
category - YA

Unlock Worlds Challenge - book 1/6

Take Another Chance Challenge - book 1/16
Challenge 5 - Title Word Count
Challenge Description: Go to and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the numbers 1 for the min. and 5 for the max. and then hit generate. Find a book to read that has that number of words in the title. Read the book and write about it.

My number was 2.

42 Science Fiction Challenge - 3/42

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