The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

As The Giver begins, the protagonist Jonas’ community seems almost perfect; its citizens are polite to a tee, are required to talk openly about their feelings to promote emotional well being and seem to be without a care in the world. Gradually more disturbing aspects of the society become apparent; citizens have very little choice over the direction their lives will take, at twelve they are assigned careers and later in life spouses. They do not give birth to their own children, but take medication to suppress their sexual urges and apply to The Committee to be allocated children, who are born by women given the role of  Birthmothers. The children never meet their true mothers or know which other children have the same Birthmother as them. Each live with a sibling also not related to them by blood in their assigned family unit. Once children move out of their family homes the “parents” go and live with the Childless Adults and after that they live in The House of the Old, where the elderly are looked after, but also physically disciplined when naughty.

Despite all of this people are very content – the only complaint ever made is how hard it is to change any of the society’s rules. The source of this widespread happiness becomes clear when Jonas is chosen as the community’s new Receiver of Memory when he turns twelve and is allocated a career. The Receiver of Memory’s job is to hold all the memories of the past, spanning back prior to the establishment of the community, on the behalf of its citizens, bearing the burdensome pain of wisdom and knowledge of both the good and painful events of the past. The Receiver has this role so that when the community is faced by a problem The Committee can turn to him for advice in light of his knowledge of the past. The current Receiver, an elderly man, becomes The Giver when he begins to train Jonas in preparation for his lonely task and transmits memories to him.

Lowry’s simplistic and direct writing is perfect for younger readers, but despite using a stark style Lowry manages not to lose any of the story’s appeal to adults; it almost makes the dark themes more disturbing somehow to have them presented so simply.



28 responses

  1. I have Gathering Blue and I keep meaning to read it. Should probably re-read the Giver first.

  2. I read The Giver as a kid and loved it. I’ve always meant to get around to Gathering Blue, but it somehow never happened. I think I’m worried it’ll be a let down: I have such fond (perhaps overly so) memories of The Giver. It’d be interesting to see what you think as an adult reader for both.

    1. Hi Tia,
      Thanks for reading! I had a look at your site and I noticed you’re doing the challenge too! Great review of the Uglies, I’ll be interested to read your reviews on The Knife of Never Letting Go and The White Mountains as I don’t think I’ve heard of them before.

  3. I remember reading The Giver in elementary school and it definitely made me think! In fact, I think it kind of freaked me out a little bit. It would be interesting to read it again after all these years to see how different my take on it would be.

    Totally off topic, but I saw that you read Neverwhere this summer. What did you think? I really liked it! I think my favorite of his was American Gods.

    1. So many people seem to have read it in school! I never heard of it when I was a kid, maybe it was extra popular in America.
      I enjoyed Neverwhere, it took me quite awhile to get into it though. I didn’t really like it for about the first third of the book but then I got into it. I haven’t read American Gods, but I’d really like to! I’ve read Coraline, The Graveyard Book and Good Omens. Good Omens and Coraline are definitely my faves!

  4. I’m really into anthropology so I loved the concept of American Gods, very original!

    Good Omens was great too! Thinking about that one makes me want to read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I got a few for my dad for Christmas last year because I thought they might be similar to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker books, and he absolutely loves them. Have you read those?

    1. No I haven’t, I’ve always wanted to though! There are so many of them that every time I see them in the library I struggle to work out which is the first book! I’ll have to look it up and get a copy some day.

    2. Weird that Gaiman was mentioned here; I just picked up Neverwhere in the library last week off enjoying Coraline and Graveyard Book. Didn’t know anything about it in particular… may put it off awhile now. Haven’t heard of American Gods, but I’ve heard great things about Good Omens. Anyone have recommendations over which one would be best to do first?

      Haven’t read Pratchett’s Discworld, but I did read Nation. I thought it was okay, but the characters and history didn’t quite work for me.

      1. I love Good Omens so I would say start on that, but Jamye seems to have read more of his works so she can probably better recommend which to read next than I can. 🙂

      2. I guess it depends on what you’re in the mood for. Good Omens is a really fast-paced satiric comedy about the apocalypse. It kind of reminded me of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, just because of the writing style.

        American Gods is a bit more involved. I can’t remember all that much about it because I only read it once years ago but I remember liking it the best out of his books. I think the only other one I’ve read is Stardust.

  5. I know, it’s crazy! Someone posted a nice chronological list on Amazon so that’s what I was going from. I got my dad a few more for Father’s Day and I just found out that he bought four more this weekend so I’ve totally lost track of how many he has. 😦 Guess I’ll have to think of something else to get him for the next holiday, lol!

  6. That sounds great. It´s been on my list for a while but maybe your review will finally get me to actually buy a copy and read it!

    1. I think you’ll like it. It’s a really quick read too. 🙂

  7. Hi Dominique,

    I love this book! One of the very few besides 1984 and Fahreheit 451 that depict the future so well. Absolutely Awesome!!


  8. Welcome to the read-a-thon (I hope you’re still participating)! Enjoy these first few hours-they’ll fly by! I’m sure you’ll do great. 😀

    1. Hi Eva, thanks for visiting! I accidentally posted this link on the readathon page but if you click through to all my blog posts the readathon stuff is there. So silly of me!

  9. I really like The Giver. I’m reading the Hunger Games right now, and it reminds me a lot of it.

    1. Hi Ronnica, thanks for commenting! The Hunger Games just came in for me at the library so I’m looking forward to reading it this week. I see you’re doing the readathon too, you’ve made so much more progress than me! I accidentally posted a link to this post on the readathon site but if you click through to my main blog you’ll see it there.

  10. I also just read and reviewed The Giver. I didn’t love it that much, and your review is a thousand times better than mine, but I do not speak English, so that is my excuse 😉

    Both The Hunger Games and Tomorrow, when the war began are fantastic books and I am sorry I’ve already read them 🙂

    Can’t wait to read your reviews of those.

    1. I had a look through your blog, your English is great!
      Glad to hear you liked The Hunger Games and Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to reading them.

  11. Thanks Dominique, that is very kind of you 🙂

  12. Oh, and you really have something to look forward to with Hunger Games and the Tomorrow series. Both are great!

  13. I loved The Giver – I went into it blind, and then was so shocked by the twist – best way to read a book, I think.

    On the Gaiman bit, Neverwhere is my favorite of his books. American Gods was dark as dark, just a warning. I’d read it on a sunny day (but maybe that’s just me?). But anything he writes is absolute genius, so you can’t go wrong.

    Happy reading for the dystopia challenges!

  14. I also read The Giver for the DystopYA Challenge and have to agree with your take on the appropriate age of 12. Parts of the book disturbed me and I’m way over 12! It was a deviously simple looking book wasn’t it! I enjoyed it and reading your review too!

  15. This is one of my all time favorite books! I think you and I have the same taste in lit! I am marking you down as one of my favorite bloggers!! If you like this one you should try The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins if you haven’t already.

    1. Hi! Thanks for the compliment 🙂 I have The Hunger Games out from the library and plan to read it soon. I tried to have a look at your blogspot but the address didn’t seem to work?

  16. After you read The Giver and Gathering Blue, you must read Messenger, also by Lois Lowry. It tells you what happened to Jonas when he and…I mean after The Giver. I almost gave away the ending of The Giver!

    On a side note, I got chills when reading in Gathering Blue about the blue-eyed boy. 🙂

    1. I still haven’t gotten around to Gathering Blue yet! You’ve reminded me that I must Carrie, thanks for visiting!

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