28 March 2014

The Giver: 1994 Newbery Award Book

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book.  A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

The Giver Cover.gif
Cover of the book - The image is used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause.

Jonas: The One Who Sees Beyond

"He is to be alone, apart, while he is prepared by the current Receiver for the job which is most honored in our community."

In the Community where eleven-year-old Jonas lives, everything is the same.  No one is different, though they have different skills, it is rude to comment about something that makes them different.  The Community lacks the ability to feel, due to the choice long ago to go to "Sameness," but everyone is happy, as it is a seemingly Utopian society.  Jonas is discovered to have a gift that allows him to see beyond his Community, even though he does not understand, nor does anyone else in his community.  At the Ceremony of Twelve, when the children who are about to turn twelve receive their assignments for their adult careers, Jonas is selected to become the trainee of the most honored of his Community's Elders, The Receiver of Memory, the only one who knows what feelings, colors, and memories are.  Jonas, as the new Receiver, is given these memories from the old man, who calls himself The Giver, memories of warmth and love, of murder and pain, of life well before "Sameness".   In receiving these memories, Jonas learns that life in his Community isn't as happy as it seems, and he is torn between living the life he knows, or the one he longs for as a result of his memories.

This is the first book that I have read since undertaking this journey of reading all of the Newbery Award winning books that I had already read before.  I have read this book numerous times, and have read two of its sequels.  Every time I read it I notice something else in the story, another layer that makes me think.  The Giver, one of two Newbery Award winners by author Lois Lowry, is a story about what could happen if everything was the same.  I feel that it is a story of the human spirit triumphing over suppression, of love being able to conquer anything it chooses.  While the community is seemingly utopian, with everyone polite and devoid of any true feelings or differences that would make them self-conscious, it is ultimately a dystopian society with many problems, which is only seen by the two in the Community who hold on to the old memories.

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