A couple of days ago I reread one of my favorite books from my childhood. If you haven’t read The Giver by Lois Lowry, I highly recommend it. Lois Lowry’s writing style is straightforward and concise with several euphemisms throughout the book. The Giver won several awards: Newberry Medal, Regina Medal, William Allen White Medal, and other honors as well.
The book is about a 12-year-old boy, Jonas, who lives in a society where an elderly council dictates everyone’s lives. The council dictates everyone’s jobs, their spouses, and their children (only allowed one boy and one girl). The council appoints certain women to birth only three children, and they assign the children to different families.
Anyway, the council assigns Jonas to be the “Receiver of Memory,” and an older man (The Giver) transmits memories to Jonas over the course of a year. Jonas learns what life was like before “The Sameness” took over. He learns about physical and emotional pain, simple ordinary pleasures, deep feelings, colors, and climates. The council forbids him from speaking to anyone about these memories as well. Jonas becomes unhappy with the way things are in his society, and he decides to do something about it. The ending of the book is not clear, and it lets you interpret what happens for yourself.
When I first read the book, I thought they lived in a utopian society because everyone seemed so happy. Nobody experiences hunger, pain, crime, or loneliness. They do not have to worry about finding a job, finding a spouse, or having children. About halfway through the book, I realized their society is dystopian in many ways.
What would life be like without experiencing sunshine, rain, or snow? How would we grow as human beings without experiencing emotional and physical pain? What would life be like without seeing the beautiful colors of nature? I cannot imagine life without love as well. I think the book reminds us in many ways that life is all about choices, and we have to experience the good with the bad. We need to have something to work toward, and we need challenges to overcome or else life would be dull and monotonous.
The book is quite short, and it only takes about four hours to read; however, it makes you question life in general. The movie comes out August 15, and I hope the movie is just as good.