Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Date Read: Various
Rating: 5 (of 5) stars
I can say without a doubt that there is no book that I have read as many times as The Giver. There is something about this book that brings me back, again and again. Despite that, this is a somewhat difficult post for me to write. I love this book, but I have a hard time putting my finger on what exactly it is that draws me in. I do not quite have the words to describe the feelings I have when reading it. On one of my re-reads of this book, I decided to keep a highlighter and pen nearby. Mark it up. Write it out. Really dig down into what it was about this book that has me so enthralled. I finished it without making a single mark in the book. I could not find a passage, or even a sentence, that captured the heart of this story.
My first encounter with this book was in middle school. I read it again for a project in high school. I read it a third time when my younger sister had to read it in high school. Shortly after that, I finally bought my own copy. Since then, I have re-read it every year or two. My most recent read was just this summer, where I for a second time did much of my reading with a notebook by my side. I still do not feel fully satisfied that I am writing a review that will truly capture what I have to say, but I will try.
The world that Lowry builds is sparse. We get a basic description of the things that can be found in the community, but little else. Very few details, not really enough to paint a clear picture.This is true not just for the setting, but also the characters of the novel. With an exception for the main characters, we do not get much depth. While I can see why some readers would find this annoying, I think it fits perfectly with the story. The world Jonas lives in is based on Sameness– those details that we are looking for are not important. I think that is part of the beauty of this book. There is a simplicity.
But then we add complexity. As Jonas learns of the world of the past, we get glimpses of the path that lead society to this state. While the general idea we get of the world is dystopian (perhaps disguised as a Utopia), the progression is seemingly logical to a point. No hunger? No war? Certainly, a world with more security would sound appealing to many. I suppose the question becomes where the line gets drawn between safety and freedom. Is it necessary to take away all freedoms to create the order needed to eliminate these problems? Does the ability to choose the color of your clothing really impact the world on a larger scale? Maybe. Is a world without pain worth giving up those things needed to create it? I suppose this comes down to the dichotomy of life– if we eliminate the risk of pain, is there a possibility for true pleasure? Which of those is the real purpose of living? To get through life unscathed, or to collect the bumps, bruises, and scars that lead to happiness? Obviously, I do not have answers to any of these, nor would I even attempt it.
Finally, of course, is the ambiguous ending. I feel somewhat differently about this each time that I read it. When I first read the book, I did not feel the ending to be ambiguous. I made my interpretation as I read, and that was good enough for me. In future readings, I realized that it could be open to additional interpretations. I find this an interesting aspect to the story, although I have always preferred by initial interpretation.
Boris’s thoughts: “I suppose if you like it that much, it can’t be bad… I guess… 3 paws.”