“The Giver” by Lois Lowry is a beautiful book. It has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. I have read it many times, and it is just as wonderful each time I read it. I suppose the book is for children or young adults, but I think it is a book for everyone.
I suppose the book should be classified under the science fiction genre, but it is more than that. It is a coming of age story. A story about understanding the importance of being an individual. A book about the dangers of conformity.
It is a story about a boy named Jonas who lives in a community where everything is under control. There is no fear, war or pain, but there is also no color, music, or love. It is a community of safety and sameness. Decisions are made for everyone in the community. Everyone wears the same things, rides the same bikes. People submit applications to be given a spouse and applications to acquire children for the family unit. It is a place where no one is rude and no one has to make choices for themselves, because choices are dangerous. It is safer to just make everyone’s choices for them.
Jonas is about to turn 12. At the age of 12, everyone is assigned their jobs. The jobs they will do for the rest of their lives. Jonas is given a job that gives him knowlege unlike anyone else in the community. He learns about what life was like before sameness. He learns about love and color and loss and pain. He learns what the world can be like without sameness. He learns how wild and painful and beautiful it could be.
It is a story about a boy who learns that nothing is actually as it seems. That is a painful realization for any child, but the scope of the revelation for Jonas is immense. He comes to realize that life without love and danger and beauty is no life at all.
It is also a story about a futurist society that is as disturbing as “1984” or “Brave New World”. Just because it is written for young people doesn’t mean that it isn’t truly thought provoking and important. This book belongs in the halls of great sci-fi and great books in general.
I could read this book over and over again. I suggest you do the same.