Sunday, April 4, 2010

The greatest gift to give

The Giver
Lois Lowry

Jonas is an almost 12-year-old in a dystopian society where everything is extremely ordered and perfect - families consist of two parents with one boy and one girl, no one gets sick, there is perpetual peace, everyone is polite and well-mannered, and when death does come it is almost always at an old age and ushered with a celebration. At the age of twelve each child in the community learns what their life assignment will be, a career that is assigned by the Elders, and they dedicate their lives to following the rules that govern that assignment. Jonas receives a special assignment - to work with The Giver - and quickly learns that his perfect world comes at a price that he could not have even imagined.

***mild spoilers - nothing too big***

This book was extremely powerful and truly makes you think about the world we live in - yes, there is a lot of pain and suffering but would we banish these evils from our world if it meant also giving up joy and love? This is one of the most beautifully written young adult books I have ever read; Lowry's genius storytelling is so provocative because you learn about Jonas' world as he learns about it, therefore you share the shock, wonder, and eventual outrage that he feels in the book.

***actual spoilers***

Toward the end of the book, when The Giver and Jonas are planning for Jonas to go away I was a little shocked that The Giver was pushing for Jonas to leave while he would be the one to stay behind. I initially thought it was very selfish of The Giver to make Jonas leave everything he has ever known and go to what I thought was certain-death regardless of how limiting life in the community was. However, at the end of the book I realized that The Giver gave Jonas the gift of actual life, possibly the best gift anyone could receive.

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