“The Giver” by Lois Lowry

I remember selling this book at Coles. It was a really thin book though, and it had never really captured my attention. When the movie came out, we rented it from Family Video (god I miss that place!), and we really enjoyed!  So when I found it available on Overdrive, I decided I would give it a try.

Jonas is about to turn 12 where he will be given his life assignment. In his community, the concept of choice is non-existent. Your career, your spouse, your children are all chosen for you. It is all about sameness; no colour, no hills, no changing climate, every day is the exact same.

Jonas is given the prestigious job of Receiver. The Receiver is the town historian, burdened with the memories of the past, so the rest of society does not have to hold on to them. The Receiver is consulted only when society is faced with a decision, as someone to provide insight based on history.

Jonas begins his training with the Giver, the man who he will replace. The Giver is getting older and the burden of the memories is becoming too much. His training begins with sledding in the winter, down a hill, and continues with the sensation of sunshine, of burning, of pain, of starving, and of violence. An interesting concept for this society is that people can be “released”.  Jonas begins to understand just how heavy the burden of the Giver really is.

An interesting concept for this society is that people can be “released”. It is mainly for the elderly, but is also used for a twin, someone who does not follow the rules, and for babies that do not thrive. They are essentially released out of the society into the beyond. Jonas eventually finds out what is entailed in the process of being released, and he is horrified, and he wants everyone to have those memories, to fully understand what is happening in their society.

The book raises some interesting questions on what would you be willing to give up to live in a “perfect” or “fair” world? To have no worry about choice or differences? And at what cost? Can we find a way to give up all of the bad things in life without losing some of the good?

Overall, this was another meh book for me. The movie was much better I felt. Maybe it was just one of those stories that needs to be visually presented. But it really didn’t work for me as audiobook. I found I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, was not surprised by the “releasing” concept, and thought the idea of a world that’s the same rather boring. To me it is our differences that make the world better.

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