The Giver by Lois Lowry
Recommended For: Ages 10 to Adult
Rating: PG (dystopian culture and some disturbing topics such as euthanasia)
Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.
When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
In light of the movie coming out that is likely to be extremely unsatisfactory (I admit, I tend to be rather a book purist), I decided to bring up The Giver as a Friday Favorite. I haven't loved The Giver as long as I've loved Narnia simply because I was older when I first read it, but when I read it several years ago, it became an instant favorite. I have, at this point, read it three times in all.
I obviously haven't seen the movie yet (the Plugged In review doesn't make it sound too horribly different other than the addition of romance and the replacement of the pills with injections), but from the trailer it seems like they're trying to make it something it's not. It looks like they're trying to make it into another Hunger Games. That's not what it is. It isn't the story of a teenager thrown into a world of violence accidentally setting off a revolution. The Giver is the story of a boy who has grown up in a "perfect" world realizing the truth about his world. And it truly is an amazing story, well worth the Newbery Medal it bears.*
Yet, The Giver isn't exactly a book you just love. There's too much about it that is terrible. Really. Everything seems perfect at the beginning of the book, There is no pain, no suffering, no need to choose anything. Everything is decided for you. It is a secure life. Yet, as the book goes on, and Jonas learns from The Giver, you realize how much is missing from that life. I can't say much more, because part of what makes the book so powerful is the slow discovery of what the Community really is.
The Giver isn't a book you just read and dismiss. To do that is to miss the point. It is supposed to make you think. It should make you ponder what it really means to give up freedom for security. Take this journey with Jonas. Learn the truth. There really is no turning back.
*Edit: Ignore the trailer. It misrepresents the movie. Read my review of the movie here.