Friday, June 1, 2012

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I finished reading The Giver by Lois Lowry a couple of weeks ago. This is the first novel I've read by Lois Lowry and all I can say is W-O-W!!! What a powerful novel. I can see why The Giver is the winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal.

I've enjoyed reading a few dystopian novels over the years, so The Giver appealed to me for this reason, along with it being a Newbery Medal winner.

The Giver is set in an unknown society that is presented as a utopian society at the start of the novel and gradually over time, this society, appears more dystopian in nature. In this unnamed society, it is learned that:
The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness," a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory," the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. When Jonas meets the previous receiver—The "Giver"—he is confused in many ways. The Giver is also able to break some rules, such as turning off the speaker and lying to people of the community. As Jonas receives the memories from the Giver, he discovers the power of knowledge. The people in his community are happy because they don't know of a better life, but the knowledge of what they are missing out on could create major chaos. He faces a dilemma: Should he stay with the community, his family living a shallow life without love, color, choices, and knowledge, or should he run away to where he can live a full life?
The above quote is from Wikipedia. Click on highlighted text to read/learn more.

The Giver has had its share of controversy and has appeared on the American Library Association's list of top 100 banned/challenged books for 2000-2009 and also made the list for 100 most frequently challenged books for 1990-1999.

In an article, titled Lois Lowry's Newbery-winning 'Giver' still ignites debate by Karen MacPherson published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ms. MacPherson sites the following controversy regarding The Giver:
A number of American towns and cities have chosen it for community wide reading projects, and the book is a popular gift for graduations and bar mitzvahs.
But "The Giver," which won the 1994 Newbery Medal, also is among the most challenged books in the nation, according to the American Library Association. These challenges are filed by adults who contend that the book supports euthanasia, abortion and infanticide. Lowry, as well as the book's many fans, vehemently deny these charges.
"The reasons that people give for challenging the book make it clear that they haven't read it," Lowry said. "It's saddening and frustrating because it seems to me that this is a very moral book."

I really enjoyed reading The Giver. Yes, it deals with mature, thought provoking subject matter for young adults, but I never once felt that The Giver promoted/supported "euthanasia, abortion and infanticide". I simply felt The Giver made me, the reader, think more about the world around me and more importantly about the government's role on the society in which we live.

Although, I do not have children myself, I am old enough to be a mother of a young adult and I would allow my child to read this book if I had a child. Promoting the love of reading and having healthy, meaningful discussions about what has been read is a good thing.

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