This book has been on my shelf forever, but I only read it recently in an effort to quickly finish my Goodreads challenge. I now wish I’d read it years ago.
This book, ostensibly for middle-graders, blew my mind in a way no book has done so since I read “Ender’s Game.” Written in deceptively simple and sparse, almost clinical prose, “The Giver” tells the story of a perfect community where everyone goes about their lives, from cradle-to-grave, in a world free from pain, unhappiness, and choices.
The book’s hero, Jonas, is named Receiver of Memory upon turning twelve, even though he doesn’t really know what that means. His mentor, the previous Receiver of Memory, known as “The Giver,” slowly reveals to him the horrible truth behind The Community.
At it’s most basic level, “The Giver” is “1984” for kids. I believe it is quite clear that Lois Lowry has penned a warning against Statism. It even has a heart-crushing, ambiguous ending similar to the one which Orwell included in his book, though this book’s case is slightly abated by the existence of three related installments. I understand that none of these are direct sequels.
The book reads really fast, I being able to go through it in less than two days. I guarantee that you will be kept glued to your seat with this book. It’s just impossible to put down.
I think this book is particularly prophetic in its portray of The Community where Jonas lives. There’s an enforced hypersensitivity about the use of language. Euphemisms for death, euthanasia, and infanticide are rampant. Jonas and children his age are given pills to combat “the Stirrings,” itself a euphemism for sexual arousal. Motherhood is looked down upon as a rather unimportant “job.”
This book is chilling. Give it to your kid to read, but only if you fully understand what it’s about. I’d advise reading it yourself, because it’s a darn good book, and also you can answer their questions when they read the thing.