Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Giver

Lois Lowy

MM paper back. 180 pages.

This is a Newbery Award winning book that has been calling me since I began working in the book store. I picked it up with a few other books by Lois Lowry that caught my attention.

Written for young adults and juveniles I found the story and characters a little underdeveloped for adult readers, although probably just right for younger readers. I mention this because I have had people of all ages looking for it.

The story takes place in the future and follows a twelve year old child into the first year of training for his "assignment," the job he will perform for his community for the rest of his life. His assignment is to become the Receiver of all ancient memories. There is only ever one Receiver until he/she becomes old and near release, and then a new one is trained. The assignment is a very honored one, but causes isolation and pain to the Receiver. The title, The Giver, comes from the boy, now the new Receiver, questioning what he should call his mentor, the old Receiver. The old Receiver instructs him to call him the Giver.

In this futuristic world "sameness" is what is important. The Receiver has the memories of the past which support the value of "sameness." However, both the old and new Receiver can see that "sameness" means a myriad of things not experienced. Sameness equals safe, no conflict. Different equals choice which may not be a good thing.

The end of the story was very ambiguous to me. If I were a middle school reader I might have thought it was a happy ending. As an adult with the knowledge and experience of age, I am not sure if the ending was happy or sad. Although it came very close to wrapping it up, it stops just short of spelling out the truth of it.

I was left to ponder what purpose a world of sameness could have. But ultimately that took me full circle to wonder what purpose the world as it exists today has. Does anything we do have any real affect on anything? Can we say that our purpose/existence will matter in a thousand years? Perhaps, if sameness is all you know then it's purpose is as meaningful as any other existence. 

The Giver is an interesting look at a potential future. Possibly as scary in it's own way as George Orwell's 1984. 

If you clicked on The Giver link and went to the Lois Lowry website featuring this book you will see mention of the cover design.  This book is in several sections of our store, Kids, Teens, and I think it may be in the Adult Fiction or Science Fiction &Fantasy area as well.  I purposefully picked up a copy with a different cover because the old man pictured on the cover really creeped me out.  I thought it was interesting that others thought so highly of it.  Oh well.

No comments:

Post a Comment