My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry is the winner of the Newbery Medal and a story of courage and sacrifice. Jonas lives in a world where there is no war, no pain, no fear, no love, no music, and no color. The weather has long been controlled to eliminate seasons. Hills and mountains have been removed to create plains ideal for agriculture. In sum, the world is perfect and at peace.
In the Community every person is assigned a position upon reaching age twelve. Jonas, however, is selected as a Receiver of Memories and begins work with the Giver, who is the old Receiver and must pass on the memories of countless generations in order for Jonas to become the new adviser to the Elders of the Community. Once Jonas begins to receive memories long forgotten, he begins to see a darker side to the world he lives in. The Community is not so perfect after all.
At times the story does become a bit awkward. For example, Jonas spends one afternoon volunteering with his two friends Asher and Fiona at the House of the Old. Jonas bathes an old woman named Larissa, while Fiona bathes an elderly man. At another point, a graphic scene is described in detail as Jonas watches a video of his father injecting a deadly chemical into the forehead of an infant.
The death is considered “normal” in the Community because the infant failed to meet living standards; the infant-boy was smaller than his twin brother and the Community could not allow twins. This death is called the Release (but no one really knows what happens to the citizens behind the closed doors; some think they just go Elsewhere, a land outside the boundaries of the Community).
Lowry’s account of Jonas’s struggle to overcome his chosen destiny is heartbreaking and profound.
The writing quickly draws the reader into the story and keeps her there.
Although The Giver is meant for children, it does offer its reach to older readers who enjoy stories of alternate realities on the line of A Wrinkle in Time, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. A recommend for teens and above.
CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, and a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy). He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979 and now lives in Hong Kong.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father‘s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; Little Hometown, America: A Look Back; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
You can read more about the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 350,000+ followers