Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Giver

The Giver
By Lois Lowry (Author's Website)
Publisher: Dell Laurel-Leaf
Published: 1993
ISBN-13: 9780440237686
179 pages

First sentence: It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.

Living in a pain-free, orderly, almost-perfect society should make me happy but why is it giving me the creeps? That was exactly how I felt when I read The Giver by Lois Lowry. Jonas, the boy protagonist was born into that ideal society but never knowing who his biological parents were. Why? Because a man and a woman is well-matched to marry each other (not romantically linked but still learn to love nonetheless), and the same couple will be eligible to raise two children—not their own, but as allocated to them. Upon reaching adolescence, these children will be given a specific drug to curb sexual impulses. Elderly folks are being ‘released’ and so are babies who show no promise of good growth. They will also be receiving their vocation assignment by the age of twelve—and that means for Jonas too. These children are observed by the community Elders and their talents are carefully recorded so that they will not get themselves into the wrong choice of career. There are jobs to make babies, jobs to teach, provide recreation, etc. Everything is programmed and planned to the tee.

Jonas is assigned the job as a Receiver. Like any good citizens there, he is compliant and obedient. His job is a special and prestigious one too. No one is allowed to ask question, but he can. He has all the privileges that others do not have. As he begins his training with the very old Giver, his life starts to change. He receives transmission of happy thoughts and memories from the Giver. As he progresses, he begins to be weighed down by the painful memories as well. He starts to ask questions and ‘see’ that his world is not a normal one. There is no joy even though everybody appears ‘happy’. After knowing and experiencing the truth through the memories passed on to him, does he remain indifferent and ‘not rock the boat’? Or, does he do something about it even if it means losing his life?

The Giver is a children’s novel but is also a banned one. It is thought-provoking as it makes us think about the world we live in. I hope my world and yours will not become like Jonas’. I would not say it is an enjoyable read (with all the controversial issues thrown in), but it is certainly a worthwhile one. I would recommend you read this.