The Giver by Lois Lowry
Summary: Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.
A YA OG?
If you are a fan of the current explosion of YA novels, then you have to give respect to one of the originals. Although The Giver is actually a middle grade book, it has everything we love from popular YA books like The Hunger Games and Divergent. The Giver is the first in a four-book series. (Check!) The story tells what could happen in a not too distant dystopian future. (Check!) The protagonist is a chosen special who is different from the others. (Check!) The future lacks people of color (“Sameness” reads “Whiteness” to me). (Check!) BTW … it is disheartening to see so many futures, even dystopian ones, are full of only white people. The main difference with The Giver, besides not actually being a YA novel, is the protagonist is a young boy. In the sea of YA books starring girls and young women that helps the book stand out.
The Second Time Around
I haven’t read The Giver since middle school. It was great to revisit it in adulthood. In fact, The Giver is definitely one of those books we all should read again as adults. One of the most startling aspects this time around was how young 12 is in the totality of life. Childhood ending and 12-year-olds starting their journey toward adult seems unsettling at best. Can you imagine being told at 12 your childhood is essential over?! What about knowing at 12 what you will do for the rest of your life?! In Jonas’ case, his life’s work of being The Receiver is the most to ask of someone so young.
I understand why The Giver is required reading in many middle schools, but it should also be required reading for adults. This book won the Newbery Medal for good reasons. It is smart, emotional, and thought provoking. I always love books geared to kids that don’t talk down to them, and The Giver is definitely one of those books. Rating: Page Turner