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Review: The Giver — Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry’s The Giver starts out as a coming-of-age story set within a small, controlled community that has achieved happiness for all its members.  From start to end, members of the community are evaluated for how they fit into the community and those who cannot fit are released.

Life in the community is seen through the eyes of Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who is looking forward to the Ceremony of Twelves, when children are assigned to roles within the community based on what the Elders have learned in observing them from childhood.

The Ceremony of Twelves divides Jonas’ story between childhood perceptions of a utopian society to adult understanding of the compromises necessary for the community to successfully function.  As he learns the truths of his world, Jonas begins to be forced to make decisions about how he will live within his world and what he will make of his adult place.

The Giver was originally published in 1993 and won the Newberry Award in 1994.  Despite being written for younger audiences, the novel presents sophisticated societal issues, including suicide and euthanasia, which has lead to its ranking #14 on the American Library Association’s 100 most banned books of the Nineties.

Despite the sophisticated culture and the challenge of mature issues, young Jonas provides a very accessible view of Lowry’s dystopia.  Jonas has a mature perspective that belies his youth and draws the attention of Elders within the story and offers richness for adult readers.  Unusually for a dystopian novel, Lowry keeps her focus on the community itself, without delving into how it arrived at that form.  Lowry also manages to complete the novel with an ending that is left open to the reader’s interpretation, which is possibly a key to the success and popularity that The Giver has enjoyed.

This review was originally written for , now sadly offline.

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  1. 5% says

    I loved this book. LOVED IT. Gave me the heebie-jeebies. Especially the parts about how an elephant is an imaginary animal, and Jonas starting to see color.

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