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The Giver #1

The Giver

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At the age of twelve, Jonas, a young boy from a seemingly utopian, futuristic world, is singled out to receive special training from The Giver, who alone holds the memories of the true joys and pain of life.

208 pages, Paperback

First published April 26, 1993

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About the author

Lois Lowry

166 books20.6k followers
Taken from Lowry's website:
"I’ve always felt that I was fortunate to have been born the middle child of three. My older sister, Helen, was very much like our mother: gentle, family-oriented, eager to please. Little brother Jon was the only boy and had interests that he shared with Dad; together they were always working on electric trains and erector sets; and later, when Jon was older, they always seemed to have their heads under the raised hood of a car. That left me in-between, and exactly where I wanted most to be: on my own. I was a solitary child who lived in the world of books and my own vivid imagination.

Because my father was a career military officer - an Army dentist - I lived all over the world. I was born in Hawaii, moved from there to New York, spent the years of World War II in my mother’s hometown: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and from there went to Tokyo when I was eleven. High school was back in New York City, but by the time I went to college (Brown University in Rhode Island), my family was living in Washington, D.C.

I married young. I had just turned nineteen - just finished my sophomore year in college - when I married a Naval officer and continued the odyssey that military life requires. California. Connecticut (a daughter born there). Florida (a son). South Carolina. Finally Cambridge, Massachusetts, when my husband left the service and entered Harvard Law School (another daughter; another son) and then to Maine - by now with four children under the age of five in tow. My children grew up in Maine. So did I. I returned to college at the University of Southern Maine, got my degree, went to graduate school, and finally began to write professionally, the thing I had dreamed of doing since those childhood years when I had endlessly scribbled stories and poems in notebooks.

After my marriage ended in 1977, when I was forty, I settled into the life I have lived ever since. Today I am back in Cambridge, Massachusetts, living and writing in a house dominated by a very shaggy Tibetan Terrier named Bandit. For a change of scenery Martin and I spend time in Maine, where we have an old (it was built in 1768!) farmhouse on top of a hill. In Maine I garden, feed birds, entertain friends, and read...

My books have varied in content and style. Yet it seems that all of them deal, essentially, with the same general theme: the importance of human connections. A Summer to Die, my first book, was a highly fictionalized retelling of the early death of my sister, and of the effect of such a loss on a family. Number the Stars, set in a different culture and era, tells the same story: that of the role that we humans play in the lives of our fellow beings.

The Giver - and Gathering Blue, and the newest in the trilogy: Messenger - take place against the background of very different cultures and times. Though all three are broader in scope than my earlier books, they nonetheless speak to the same concern: the vital need of people to be aware of their interdependence, not only with each other, but with the world and its environment.

My older son was a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. His death in the cockpit of a warplane tore away a piece of my world. But it left me, too, with a wish to honor him by joining the many others trying to find a way to end conflict on this very fragile earth.
I am a grandmother now. For my own grandchildren - and for all those of their generation - I try, through writing, to convey my passionate awareness that we live intertwined on this planet and that our future depends upon our caring more, and doing more, for one another."

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Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews10.2k followers
May 24, 2017
Lowry's book is a piece of nationalist propaganda, using oversimplification, emotional appeals, and dualistic morality to shut down her readers' minds. More troubling is that it is aimed at children, who don't yet have the critical faculties to defend themselves from such underhanded methods.

Unsurprisingly, Lowry adopts the structure of the monomyth, equating a spiritual journey with a moral one. Her Christ-figure uses literal magic powers to rebel against his society. This rebellion and the morality behind it are presented as 'natural', to contrast with the 'abnormal morality' around him.

Lowry doesn't seem to understand that we get our morality from our culture, it isn't something in-born that we 'lose'. This is the first hint of Lowry's misunderstanding of the human mind. She assumes her own morality is correct, and then builds her story to fit it.

She also makes the character act and think like a modern person would, despite never adequately explaining how he came up with such unusual notions. It's the same trick many historical fiction authors use, leaving us scratching our heads as to why a Fourteenth Century French peasant speaks like a second-wave feminist. I'd suggest that Lowry falls to this fault for the same reason they do: she has no talent for imagining how others might think differently.

Lowry's book ends with the standard nonspecific transgressive spiritual event that marks any overblown monomyth. Since the book is not a progressive presentation of ideas, it does not suggest any conclusion. Instead, the climax is a symbolic faux-death event (symbolic of what, none can say). Confusingly, Lowry later redacts the ending in the sequels, undermining the pseudo-spiritual journey she created.

Though some call this book 'Dystopian', it's closer to the truth to say Lowry borrows elements from the Dystopian authors, attempting to combine the spiritual uplift of the monomyth with the political and social deconstruction of the Dystopia. What she doesn't recognize is that the faith of the one conflicts with the cynicism of the other. She draws on ideas and images from many other authors: Bradbury, Huxley, Orwell, Burgess, but doesn't improve upon them.

These authors created novels that reflected the world around them. They based them on the political events of the times, presented with realism and careful psychology. Though they presented the struggle between the individual and the society, they portrayed morality as grey, and suffering as the result of individual human faults, not political systems. Lowry doesn't realize that the best way to critique Fascism or Communism is not to present it as 'evil', but to simply present it as it was.

But Lowry's world is not based in reality, it is symbolic and hyperbolic. Instead of writing about how poverty makes the world seem small and dull, she has the characters magically unable to experience life. Instead of an impersonal government, she presents a sort of evil hippy commune.

The only political system it resembles is a school, which is a neat little trick to get the kids interested. The idea that 'school=unfeeling totalitarian hell' is not an uncommon one, but it's one I'm surprised teachers would support. The book also suggests a creche, but lacking similarity to any real-world system, it doesn't work as a political criticism.

Lowry creates this artificial world to suit her purposes, but it is not a symbolic exercise like 'Animal Farm'. We understand that the pigs of animal farm are symbolic, because there are no talking pigs. Lowry's world is more insidious, since its oversimplification is hidden. She builds an artificial world to support the dualist morality that she's pushing. She presents the same knee-jerk fears about euthanasia and abortion that people use against Women's Rights or Health Care.

Worse than these Straw Man arguments is the fact that she never deals with the economic causes of totalitarianism. Tyrants don't just rise up and take control by their own force of will, they come into power because of the socioeconomic situations that surround them. Lean times produce strong, fascist leaders while profitable times produce permissive, liberal societies.

Strong, centralized leadership simply doesn't self-propagate in cultures where everyone is clothed, fed, and housed. The Holocaust was socially about some ideal of 'change' and 'purity', but it was economically about the transmission of wealth from Jews, Poles, and Catholics to Germans (and more specifically, to those Germans who had elected the new ruling party).

The atrocities of war are, for the most part, committed by normal people on other normal people. By presenting the power structure as 'amoral' and 'inhuman', Lowry ignores the fact that people will willingly cause others to suffer. Painting the enemy as 'evil' and 'alien' is just an unsophisticated propagandist method.

She contrasts her 'evil' with the idealized 'goodness' of emotion, beauty, and freedom. This is nothing more than the American dream of 'specialness' that Mr. Rogers was pushing for so many years. We are all special, we are all good, we all deserve love and happiness. Sure, it sounds good, but what does it mean?

Where does this 'specialness' come from? If it is just the 'sanctity of human life', then it's not really special, because it's all-encompassing. If all of us are special, then none of us are. There's nothing wrong with valuing life, but when Lowry presents one mode of life as valuable and another as reprehensible, she ceases to actually value humanity as a whole. Instead, she values a small, idealized chunk of humanity. 'People are good, except the ones I don't like' is not a moral basis, nor is it a good message to send to kids.

If the specialness is only based on fitting in with a certain moral and social guideline, then Lowry isn't praising individuality, she's praising herd behavior. The protagonist is only 'special' because he has magic powers. His specialness is not a part of his character, it is an emotional appeal.

The idea of being a special individual is another piece of propaganda, and its one kids are especially prone to, because kids aren't special: they are carefully controlled and powerless. Giving a character special powers and abilities and then using that character to feed a party line to children is not merely disingenuous, it's disturbing.

There is also a darker side to universal specialness: giving a child a sense of importance without anything to back it up creates egotism and instability. Adults noticed that children with skills and friends had high self-esteems, but instead of teaching their children social skills and knowledge, they misunderstood the causal relationship and tried to give them self-worth first.

Unfortunately, the moment unsupported self-worth is challenged, the child finds they have nothing to fall back on. Their entitlement didn't come from their skills or experiences, and so they have nothing to bolster that sense of worth. Instead, any doubt sends them down a spiral of emotional instability.

A single book like this wouldn't be the cause of such a state in a child, but it does act as part of the social structure built to give a sense of worth without a solid base for that worth. People like to believe they are special, kids especially so, but being a remarkable person is not a result of belief but of actions. If the book had informed them, then it would leave them better off, but giving them a conclusion based on emotional appeals does nothing to build confidence or character.

Many people have told me this book is good because it appeals to children, but children often fall for propaganda. Children develop deep relationships with pop stars, breakfast cereals, and Japanese monsters. This does not make them good role models for children.

Feeding 'specialness' to kids along with a political message is no better than the fascist youth programs Lowry intends to criticize. The obsession with individuality is just another form of elitism. It's ironic that people in America most often describe themselves as individuals when pointing out the things they do to align themselves with groups.

But banding together in a community is not a bad thing. For Lowry and other 'Red Scare' children, any mention of 'communal' can turn into a witch hunt, but we all give up some personal rights and some individuality in order to live in relatively safe, structured societies. There are benefits to governmental social controls and there are drawbacks, and it's up to us to walk the line between the two. Anarchy and Totalitarianism never actually exist for long: we are social animals.

It's not difficult to understand why Lowry is so popular, especially amongst educators. The message she gives aligns perfectly with what they were taught as kids, from Red Scare reactionism to the hippy-dippy 'unique snowflake' mantra. These ideas aren't entirely misguided, either. It's good to recognize the benefits of difference and the dangers of allowing other to control our lives.

If a reader believes that fascism and socialism are inherently wrong and that their own individuality is their greatest asset, they will likely sympathize with Lowry's work. However, this doesn't make the book honest, nor beneficial. One of the hardest things we can do as readers is disagree with the methods of authors we agree with ideologically.

It makes us feel good to find authors who agree with us, but this is when we should be at our most skeptical. Searching the world for self-justification is not a worthwhile goal, it simply turns you into another short-sighted, argumentative know-it-all. 'Yes men' never progress.

Lowry is toeing the party line. She does not base her book around difficult questions, like the Dystopian authors, but around easy answers. She doesn't force the reader to decide for themselves what is best, she makes it clear what she wants us to think. Her book is didactic, which means that it instructs the reader what to believe.

Even if her conclusions about Individuality vs. Community are correct, she doesn't present arguments, she only presents conclusions. Like rote memorization or indoctrination, she teaches nothing about the politics, social order, economics, or psychology of totalitarianism or individuality. The reader is not left with an understanding, just an opinion.

The baseless 'individuality' of the book lets the reader imagine that they are rebels--that they are bucking the system even as they fall into lock-step. By letting the reader think they are already free-thinking, Lowry tricks them into forgetting their skepticism.

She is happy to paint a simple world of black and white, and this is likely the world she sees. I doubt she is purposefully creating an insidious text, she just can't see past her own opinions. She writes this book with a point to make, and makes it using emotional appeals and symbolism. She doesn't back it up with arguments because she doesn't seem to have developed her opinions from cogent arguments.

In the end, she doesn't show us that the structure of this society is wrong, she says nothing poignant about individuality vs. community; instead, she relies on threats to the life of an innocent infant. Yet nowhere does she provide an argument for why communal living or the sacrifice of freedoms for safety must necessarily lead to infanticide.

In politics, making extreme claims about the opposing side is called mud-slinging, it is an underhanded and dishonest tactic. It works. Arguing intelligently is difficult, accusing is easy, so that's what Lowry does.

She is another child of WWII and the Cold War who hasn't learned her lesson. She quickly condemns the flaws of others while failing to search out her own. Even after the Holocaust, there are many racist, nationalist, violent Jews; conflict rarely breeds a new understanding.

America condemned the faceless communal life of the Second World, and yet America created The Projects. We critiqued strong governmental controls, but we still have the bank bailout, socialized medicine, socialized schooling, and socialized charity. America condemned the Gulags and Work Camps, and yet we imprison one out of every hundred citizens; far more than Stalin ever did. Some are killed, all are dehumanized.

As a little sci fi adventure, the book isn't terrible. It's really the pretension that goes along with it. Lowry cobbles together religious symbolism and Dystopic tropes and then tries to present it as something as complex and thoughtful as the authors she copied. Copying isn't a crime, but copying poorly is.

Like Dan Brown or Michael Crichton, she creates a political pamphlet of her own ideals, slaps a pretense of authority on it, and then waits for the money and awards to roll in--and they did. Many people I've discussed this book with have pointed to those awards as the surest sign of this book's eminent worth.

Award committees are bureaucratic organizations. Their decisions are based on political machinations. This book is a little piece of Nationalism, and so it was lauded by the political machine that Lowry supports. The left hand helps the right. If awards are the surest sign of worth, then Titanic is a better movie than Citizen Kane.

What surprises me is how many of those who brought up the award as their argument were teachers. If a politically-charged administrative committee is the best way to teach children, then why do you take umbrage when the principal tells you that bigger class sizes (and fewer benefits) are fine? Listen to him: doesn't he have award plaques?

The other argument is usually that 'kids like it'. I usually respond that kids also like candy, so why not teach that? Some people also get angry at me for analyzing a book written for children:

"Of course it's not a great book, it's for kids! If you want a good book, go read Ulysses!"

I prefer to give children good books rather than pieces of political propaganda (even if they agreed with me). Children can be as skeptical, quick-witted, and thoughtful as adults if you give them the chance, so I see no excuse for feeding them anything less.

Kids aren't stupid, they just lack knowledge, and that's a fine distinction. It's easy for adults to take advantage of their naivete, their emotionality, and their sense of worth. Just because it's easier for the teacher doesn't mean it's better for the child.

When we show children something that is over-simplified, presenting an idealized, crudely moralizing world, we aren't preparing them for the actual world. If you give a child a meaningless answer to repeat, he will repeat it, but he won't understand why.

Why not give the child a book that presents many complex ideas, but no rote answers, and let them make up their own minds? If they don't learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff and form their own opinions early, in a safe, nurturing environment, what chance will they have on their own as adults?

In all the discussions and research regarding this book, I have come across very little analysis. It's especially surprising for a book with such a strong following, but there aren't many explanations of why the book is supposed to be useful or important.

This lack of argument makes sense from a political standpoint, since there is no reason to analyze the worth of propaganda: its worth is that it agrees with society and indoctrinates readers. Analyzing it would defeat the purpose; political diatribes do not stand up to thoughtful attention.

Perhaps someday someone will create a thoughtful, textual analysis of this book that will point out its merits, its structure and its complexity. I've gradually come to doubt it. I never expected when I wrote my original review of this book that it would garner this much attention.

I still welcome comments and thoughts, but if your comment looks roughly like this:

"You should read this book again, but this time, like it more. You think you're smart but you aren't. You're mean. Lowry is great. This book won awards and kids like it. It's meant for kids anyways, why would you analyze what its about? I bet you never even read the sequels. Go read 'Moby Dick' because you are full of yourself."

I've heard that one before. If you do want to comment though, you might check out this article; I find it helps me with presenting my ideas.
Profile Image for Kristine.
23 reviews162 followers
July 15, 2007
I've taught this book to my 6th graders nine years in a row. Once I realized that the book is actually a mystery, and not the bland sci-fi adventure it seemed at first skim, I loved it more and more each time. Nine years, two classes most years... 17 TIMES. I've come to see that the book isn't the story of a depressing utopia. It's the story of the relationship between the main characters the Giver, Jonas, and... I won't say her name. And of course, the baby Gabe.

Every year, as we read the book out loud together, I am amazed at details the students notice (things I've missed the previous 15 times), or questions they raise that lead to further insights for not just the class but ME. My God, the things they come up with, that I as an English major, or even me if I'd read this with a book club, could never have gone that far in depth.

As I began to more fully understand the book over the years, I was better able to guide their discussions, which helped them think more deeply about the book, and made me appreciate the book even more. And by "guide," I don't mean calm, controlled, teachery, "I already know the answer" talk.

My discussion techniques, simple:
--I'd stop the tape (books on tape are AWESOME- the narrator is always so much better than I could ever be) and say something like, "So, what do you think? Doesn't this seem a little WEIRD?" and off they'd go, bouncing ideas off each other until finally someone said something incredible, something no kid had thought of in the past nine years. Once I myself knew how to be interested in this book, I knew what might keep them hooked.
--Or, I myself would suddenly realize something new, and I'd stop reading and say, "OH MY GOD DID YOU GUYS GET WHAT THAT MEANT??? WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN????"
I feel free to participate myself, since I myself still have so many questions about the book. I'm not spoiling the ending when I bring up my own questions, because I know this book is a mystery in which things don't much get answered- they're left to linger, and that's part of the beauty and hopefulness in this book.

There are still lines, moments, in the book that give me chills. I wait for them greedily, just to hear the words spoken.

I feel lucky to have been forced to read this book a dozen times. There are other books I've read a lot with my students, and this is the one that most stands up over time, the only one that keeps my interest. I truly am on the edge of my seat to see what we will realize next. Because I've seen that, even if I think I have it all figured out, some kid is going to say something to rock my world.

I can't believe Lowry was able to make a book this clever; part of me thinks a work this good is impossible, and that we are just reading too much into it. But no, it's all there, all the pieces, and she put them there. I just don't see how could she have written such a tightly woven mystery- how could she have know all of the questions the book would raise? And you know what, she probably didn't. A book isn't like drawing a map. You make the world, and things happen. And in this case, she did make a perfect world. (I SO did not mean that as a UTOPIA PUN!!!!!!! I hate puns so much!!!!!! I mean, she so fully created that world where everything that happens is plausible.)

Just read the damn book, then call me.

Or, call me after like, Chapter 13, then after 18 and 19.

he book. Lines that almost make me cry-
Profile Image for James Carroll.
40 reviews57 followers
February 12, 2014
This book is perhaps the best refutation that I have seen in some time of a common philosophy of pain that is sometimes found in the popular media and in some versions of Buddhism. According to this philosophy, pain is the ultimate evil, and so, to eliminate pain and suffering we must give up desire, and individuality. Self is an illusion, and leads to pain; desire and agency are dangerous, so we should give them up and join the cosmic oneness "enlightenment" to find a utopia without pain. As George Lucas unfortunately has Yoda say to Anakin, "you must give up all that you fear to lose."

And, of course, this is hogwash. Choice, agency, adversity, love, desire, and real pleasure are dangerous, they can lead to pain, but without them life has no purpose. Love could lead to the loss of that which we love, but life without love is empty. Purpose comes from choosing. Purpose comes from overcoming adversity. Yes, you could choose poorly, and that could lead to pain, choice is dangerous, but without it, life has no meaning, it is colorless. Greatness in life is found by overcoming adversity, not by the absence of adversity. Without opposition, there is nothing to overcome, and thus there may be no bad, but there is also no good, there may be no pain, but there is also no joy.

***Spoiler Alert***

The book's ending mirrors this ambiguity. Although some later books answer some of these questions, at the end of this book we are left to wonder: Did he die? Did he live? All we really know is that he was made free, and he made a choice... was it the right one? Did it lead to happiness for him? Did it lead to happiness for the community who will now have his memories? Will they destroy themselves, or will the Giver be able to help them find true purpose and happiness in life? We don't know, because that is the way of all choices. We can't always know the outcomes of our decisions, and therein lies the danger, but the risk is well worth the rewards.
Profile Image for Julie Ruble.
69 reviews48 followers
October 12, 2009
I think I'm missing something. Everyone loves this book and I liked it too, but it wasn't amazing or anything.

The Giver felt like a very sparse story to me. First, there isn't much characterization, so I didn't form an emotional connection with any of the characters -- not even with Jonas or the Giver (two central characters). Asher and Fiona (particularly Fiona) are introduced such that you assume they will play greater roles in the book than they do. I don't feel like I knew Mom or Dad or Lily at all. While the lack of an emotional bond with these lesser characters may be due to the nature of their community, Jonas and the Giver should really be more sympathetic, in my opinion.

Second, the description of the community itself is sparse. There is so much more that could've been described about this "utopian" community. I feel like Jonas' selection, his revelation about Release, and his eventual choice could've been built up and framed better. I feel like I got the quick campfire version.

Finally, while I appreciate it's overall message about the importance of individual differences, human emotion, etc., I felt like the book was a bit heavy-handed with its moral. Jonas' initial support of his community and gradual change of heart seems intended to present both viewpoints, but doesn't succeed in my opinion. The book's agenda was clear to me from the beginning. It also doesn't present alternative possibilities (such as a world without Sameness but also without war, a world without Release but also without starvation, etc.) -- the choice is either here (with Sameness and no color) or Elsewhere (with pain and suffering).

When teaching the book, I also felt it was very important for students to understand how this heavy-handed moral (that most of us would agree with somewhat) demonstrates Lowry's (and our own) privilege. That is, the reason it's easy for us to say that Jonas' community is horrible is because of our own relatively privileged lives. If we lived in Darfur, were extremely impoverished, lived in a country where women were treated as property, etc., we may make a very different choice about Jonas' life.

Despite all of this, believe it or not, I did like The Giver. It's an enjoyable read. It had a great plot, the community was interesting, and the ending was fantastic and JUST a little ambiguous -- cool!
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
June 13, 2021
Stuck at home? Got some time on your hands? Want to start a long series? But you don't want a dud?

Then I have some suggestions for you!

Check out this booktube video all about which series are worth your time (and which ones aren't)!

Thanks for watching and happy reading!

Check Out the Written Review!

Man oh man, for a children's book...Lowry certainly didn't pull any punches.

Jonas lives in a perfectly perfect world.

Every family has one mother, one father, one girl and one boy.

Families always get along, the parents never disagree, no one has any secrets.

Everyone contributes to society equally.

No one is ever outraged, angry, sad.
The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without colour, pain or past.
However what appears perfect on the surface hides a far darker truth. There isn't any negativity in their world but also, there isn't any true happiness or love.

All emotions are suppressed, children are taken from "birth mothers," and defected individuals are "released." His society is alive but not living.

Jonas is ready to undergo the ceremony of twelves (during which are children born in the same year 'age' to the next level).

He will be assigned his role in society but when he is supposed to accept his new job, he's given the title of Receiver.

Something he's never even heard of. No one really knows what the Receiver does other than the Giver.

Soon Jonas learns that the Giver holds the collected memories of the societies long since past and passes it along to the next generation.

Jonas is faced with startling realities that he would've never considered - how beautiful color is, how heartbreaking loss is, and how incredibly wonderful love can make a person feel.
The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.
And soon, he comes to a decision. One that would irrevocably shift his small world.
Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything.
I first read this one in fifth grade and whew. It was a doozie.

Reread it this year and I'm starting to wonder if kids would like English class a lot more if any of the books were a bit more cheerful....

That being said, reading this one as an adult completely changed my perspective.

I remember liking it, in a slightly apathetic way, in fifth grade.

Now, I'm wholly invested in the plot, the characters and the world. What an incredible dystopia!

Audiobook Comments
Very well-read by Ron Rifkin. He wasn't a stunning narrator but definitely an enjoyable one. Though, it was a bit disconcerting to hear a grown man's voice for 12-year-old Jonas.

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Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
434 reviews4,249 followers
August 12, 2023
Jonas is an 11-year-old boy living in what he believes is an idyllic community. Crime is low, and everyone is assigned jobs that they love. When Jonas turns 12, he will finally learn what role he is to fulfill in the community.

When I was a child, I read The Giver, and I loved it. As an adult, I read The Giver and loved it even more.

Where do I begin with this one? First, as a dystopian novel, this book rocks. It doesn’t speak down to you or drone on and on about minute details. As someone who isn’t a teenager anymore, it was nice to get the way back machine fired up and think back to milestone birthdays, when I looked forward to embarking on the next step of life like when I could finally obtain my driver’s license. Now, I just look forward to getting another year older and having a reason to justify shipping in a gluten-free cake from New York (Seriously, Milk Bar in NYC….amazing!).

The Giver touches on some deep topics. How does society treat those that don’t conform? Should society live in blissful ignorance? What does society give up when it pressures everyone to be the same?

The ending of the book is ambiguous; however, in the text that I had, the author clarified the ending on the next page, spelling out exactly what happened on the last page of the book.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,195 followers
June 6, 2020

Mountain View

I don't remember reading a book as fast as I read this one.It was a great read.I couldn't put the book down for hours.And I must say is different from other books that I have read so this review actually is going to be somehow different from others.So let's start.

I enjoyed the beginning , maybe because it looked like dystopian kind of book and as you may know I love dystopian books.Also the colorless nature and emotionless were things that made me to continue read the book.This is one of those books that keeps getting interesting page by page.

What I really enjoyed from this book , the reason why I gave it 4.5 stars is because there were some moments described so beautifully and full of energy and life.Somehow they made me think about life and all things that it has , the nice , the cruel , the dreams , the goals , the feels , everything and how beautiful it is.I'm not this emotional but I must say that they were some sentences that are worth reading over and over again.This book also shows how life would be without colors, emotions, without the fun of it.It sucks!

Okay..So let's move to the story

This book is about a boy called Jonas who lives in a world full of order and rules.He has two bestfriends, one of them is this girl called Fiona.At the ceremony he is chosen to be the reciever of memories and from that moment his life changes...



Mountain View

I liked this characters because I can relate to him somehow.He is smart,caring and most important curious about things.And that curiosity leads him to the impossible known.


Mountain View

What I really liked about Fiona is her rebel side.She breaks the rules almost every time but on the other side she is caring and fights for people she loves.

Me while reading the book(favorite sentences) :

“For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing. Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps, it was only an echo.”

Mountain View

“I liked the feeling of love,' [Jonas] confessed. He glanced nervously at the speaker on the wall, reassuring himself that no one was listening. 'I wish we still had that,' he whispered.

Mountain View

“Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything.”

Mountain View

“...now he saw the familiar wide river beside the path differently. He saw all of the light and color and history it contained and carried in its slow - moving water; and he knew that there was an Elsewhere from which it came, and an Elsewhere to which it was going”

Mountain View

“Even trained for years as they all had been in precision of language, what words could you use which would give another the experience of sunshine?”

Mountain View

“Things could change, Gabe," Jonas went on. "Things could be different. I don't know how, but there must be some way for things to be different. There could be colors. And grandparents," he added, staring through the dimness toward the ceiling of his sleepingroom. "And everybody would have the memories."

Mountain View

“And here in this room, I re-experience the memories again and again it is how wisdom comes and how we shape our future.”

Mountain View

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

Mountain View

It's so worth reading.I highly recommendit to you if you life dystopian books!

Also the movie is out now!
Mountain View
Mountain View
Mountain View

*Pictures from the review are not mine, I took them mostly from Google images or Tumblr*
Profile Image for Matt.
216 reviews656 followers
October 31, 2016
If there are no wrong answers, can we really say that something has any meaning?

It is very easy to start an interesting science fiction story. Simply begin with a mystery. Don't explain things to the reader and leave them in a state of wonder. In this way, everything will seem interesting, intriguing, and worth exploring. Tap into the reader’s powers of imagination and allow them to make your story interesting in ways you need not imagine, and perhaps cannot create. This is a good plan for starting a science fiction story. Lots of science fiction stories begin in this way. On television, almost all of them do – ‘X-Files’, ‘Lost’, ‘Battlestar Galactica’, ‘The 4400’, ‘The truth is out there.’ ‘They have a plan.’

‘The Giver’ starts in this way. In the first few pages as the setting unfolded, I was struck by the parallels to China after the cultural revolution – the bicycles, the uniform-like clothing, the regulated life, the shame based culture, and ‘the sameness’. I also thought of China, because I immediately grasped that this had to be a culture which was designed to gently crash its population. There were many clues that the world was heavily overpopulated and the primary goal of the culture so described was to crash the population without descending into society destroying anarchy - the highly regulated birthrate, which was insufficient to sustain the population. To sustain the population, more than 17 out of each 25 females would have to be assigned to be birth mothers, and this clearly wasn’t the case. The replacement rate for a society is about 2.3 live births per female (maybe 2.1 in a society that is safe and careful) – clearly they were implied to be below this ratio so clearly this was a society that was trying to shed population.

Equally clearly, this was a society that engaged in widespread euthanasia for the most trivial of causes, which hints at a culture which doesn’t value life because people are in such abundance that they can be readily disposed of. I suspected that ‘Release’ was euthanasia almost immediately from the context in which it was introduced, and this was almost immediately confirmed when it was revealed that infants were subject to ‘release’. Clearly, infants can't be meaningfully banished, so clearly release was euthanasia. So I was intrigued by the story. I wanted to see what happened to Jonas and his naive family who had so poised themselves on the edge of a great family wrecking tragedy in just the first few dozen pages of the story. I wanted to receive from the storyteller answers to the questions that the story was poising, if not some great profound message then at least some story that followed from what she began.

But it was not to be. The first clue that the whole construct was to eventually come crashing down was that Jonas clearly didn’t understand ‘release’ to mean ‘euthanasia’. Nor in fact did anyone seem to know what ‘release’ meant. This shocked me, because in the context of the setting it was virtually impossible that he and everyone else did not know. I could very easily imagine a stable society where human life was not prized – after all, societies that believe that human life is intrinsically valuable are historically far less common than ones that don’t. We know that the society is life affirming, both because we are told how pained and shocked they are by loss and by the fact that Jonas responds to scenes of death with pity and anger. What I could not believe in was a society which held the concept of ‘precision of language’ so tightly and so centrally that the protagonist could not imagine lying could in fact be founded on lies. That’s impossible. No society like that can long endure. Some technological explanation would be required to explain how the society managed to hide the truth from itself. If release took place in some conscious state of mind, then surely the dispensers of Justice, the Nurturers, the Caregivers, and the sanitation workers would all know the lie, and all suspect – as Jonas did – that they were being lied to as well. Surely all of these would suspect what their own future release would actually entail, and surely at least some of them would reject it. Surely some not inconsequential number of new children, reared to value precision of language and to affirm the value of life, would rebel at the audacity of the lie if nothing else. Even in a society that knew nothing of love, even if only the society had as much feeling as the members of the family displayed, and even if people only valued others as much as the Community was shown to value others, surely some level of attachment would exist between people. Soma or not, the seeds of pain, tragedy, conflict and rebellion are present if ever the truth is known to anyone.

Nothing about the story makes any sense. None of it bears any amount of scrutiny at all. The more seriously you consider it, the more stupid and illogical the whole thing becomes. We are given to believe that the society has no conception of warfare, to the point that it cannot recognize a child’s war game for what it is, and yet we are also given to believe that they train pilots in flying what is implied to be a fighter craft and that the community maintains anti-aircraft weapons on a state of high alert such that they could shoot down such a fighter craft on a moments notice. We are given to believe that all wild animals are unknown to the community, yet we are also given to believe that potential pest species like squirrels and birds are not in fact extinct. How do you possibly keep them out of the community if they exist in any numbers elsewhere? We are given to believe that technology exists sufficient to fill in the oceans and control the weather and replace the natural biosphere with something capable of sustaining humanity, but that technological innovation continues in primitive culture. We are given to believe that they are worried about overpopulation and starvation, and yet also that most of the world is empty and uninhabited or that this inherently xenophobic community lives in isolation if in fact it doesn’t span the whole of the Earth. We are given to believe that this is a fully industrial society, yet the community at most has a few thousands of people. Surely thousands of such communities must exist to maintain an aerospace industry, to say nothing of weather controllers. Why is no thought given to the hundreds of other Receivers of Memory which must exist in their own small circles of communities in the larger Community? Surely any plan which ignores the small communities place in the larger is foredoomed to failure? Surely the Receiver of Memory knows what a purge or a pogrom is?

How are we to believe that Jonas’s father, whose compassion for little Gabriel is so great that he risks breaking the rules for his sake, whose compassion for little Gabriel is so great that he risks face by going to the committee to plead for Gabriel’s life, whose compassion for little Gabriel is so great that he discomforts himself and his whole family for a year for the sake of the child, is the same man who so easily abandons that same child at a single setback when he has witnessed the child grow and prosper? Doesn’t it seem far easier to believe that this same man, who is openly scornful of the skills and nurturing ability of the night crew, would more readily blame the night crew for Gabriel’s discomfort? I can only conclude, just as I can only conclude about the illogical fact that no one knows what release is, that everything is plastic within the dictates of the plot. Jonas’s father feels and acts one way when the needs of the plot require it and feels and acts in different ways when the needs of the plot require something else. What I can’t believe is that this is any sort of whole and internally consistent character or setting. Every single thing when held up to the light falls apart. There is not one page which is even as substantial as tissue paper.

It is almost impossible to draw meaning from nonsense, so it is no wonder that people have wondered at the ending. What happens? The great virtue of the story as far as modern educators are probably concerned is that there are no wrong answers. What ever you wish to imagine is true is every bit as good of answer as any other. Perhaps he lives. Perhaps he finds a community which lives in the old ways, knowing choice – and war and conflict (which probably explains why the community needs anti-aircraft defenses). But more likely from the context he dies. Perhaps he is delusional. Perhaps he gets to the bottom and lies down in the deepening snow which the runners can no longer be pushed through and he dies. Perhaps he dies and goes to heaven, maybe even the heaven of the one whose birthday is celebrated by the implied Holiday. Perhaps it is even the case that he was sent to his death by the cynical Giver, who knew his death was necessary to release the memories he contained by to the community. Perhaps he didn’t just die, but was slaughtered as the sacrificial lamb – killed by a murderous lie from the one he trusted too well. For my entry in the meaningless answers contest, I propose that the whole thing was just a dream. This seems the easiest way to explain the contradictions. A dream doesn’t have to make sense. And the biggest clue that it is a dream is of course that Jonas sees the world in black and white, with only the occasional flashes of recognized color around important colorful things as is typical of that sort of black and white dream. Perhaps Jonas will wake up and engage in dream sharing with his family, and they will laugh at the silliness and then go to the ceremony of twelves. Or perhaps the whole community is only a dream, and Jonas will wake up and go downstairs and open his Christmas presents with his family.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
September 1, 2018
*******SPOILER ALERT*******

“I don't know what you mean when you say 'the whole world' or 'generations before him.'I thought there was only us. I thought there was only now.”

 photo the-givermovieposter_zps5d66ff4f.jpg
Read the book, watch the movie, experience the synergy.

We don’t live in a dystopian world, but we do have a growing number of our population who believe that all that exists is NOW, that history is irrelevant, and that there is no future. It simplifies existence when a person can convince themselves of this. No need to learn about the past, no need to think about tomorrow, they just react to what they have to do today.

I insist on being a more complicated creature. What I learn about the past helps me make decisions about the present. The dreams I have for the future influence my decisions in the NOW. The past, the NOW, and the future all mingle together with very little delineation.

Reading this novel, experiencing this future society, my nerves were as jangled as if Freddy was running his metal tipped fingers down a chalkboard over and over again. That is not Lois Lowry’s fault it had much more to do with my natural abhorrence for everything and everyone being the same.

“The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without colour, pain or past.”

When Jonas turns twelve he, like every other twelve year old, is assigned his life’s work. He is delegated to the ancient, wise, old man called The Receiver. Because Jonas is now The Receiver, the old man by definition becomes The Giver. He is the vault, the keeper of memories, the only person in the community that knows there was a past. Jonas is understandably confused, overwhelmed with the concept of anything other than NOW.

Jonas is seeing red. In a monochrome society devoid of color, it is the equivalent of seeing a UFO or a Yeti. Color changes everything. As The Giver lays hands on him, transferring more and more memories to Jonas, he starts to see the world as so much more. Color creates depth, not only visually, but also mentally. Jonas’s expectations increase exponentially, quickly. He wants everybody to know what he knows, but of course that is impossible, most assuredly dangerous.

“They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrancy his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.”

SAMENESS eliminates pain, discrimination, desire, pride, ambition, choice, thinking, and all the other things that make us uniquely human. To eliminate bad things also requires an equal measure of a loss of good things. In making this society the holes in the strainer were just too small.

The Elders select your mate for you (no homosexuality allowed in this society), but then with the elimination of desire, by a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals, it doesn’t really matter if one is gay, straight, or pansexual. Your mate is really just a partner, someone to schedule your life with. Children are assigned to you. They are nurtured by others until they are walking, and then like the stork of old they are plopped into a family unit. Two children only per couple. Women are assigned for childbearing, but only for three children, and then they are relegated as laborers for the rest of their lives. Childbearing is looked on as one of the lowest assignments a woman can be given. The Elders decide what job you will have for the rest of your life, well up until you are RELEASED.

No decisions necessary...ever.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

The Giver, his mind not as elastic as it used to be, is consumed by the pain of the memories. He needs to speed up the process of passing some of that distress to Jonas. For the first time in his life Jonas feels real discomfort. Pills in the past had always taken away any pain he felt, from a skinned knee or even a broken arm. As The Receiver he has to understand the source of the pain, and to do so he must feel it.

There was another Receiver. She had asked to be Released. A more than niggling concern to young Jonas.

Even though the rule for The Receiver, You May Lie, bothers Jonas, it becomes readily apparent the more he learns the more imperative that rule becomes. The veil has been lifted from his eyes, and it is impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. He must choose the path that his predecessor chose ( to be released), or he must go into the great beyond of ELSEWHERE which is anywhere but there. The Giver has had to be so courageous, staying, holding memories for everyone, bearing the annoyance of only being consulted in moments of desperation, knowing so much that could be so helpful, and yet, made to feel like a dusty museum piece with the placard stating: Only Break Glass in Case of Fire.

The conclusion really bothers people, but I consider the ambiguous ending as one of my most favorite parts of the book. For those who read the books Choose Your Own Adventure, this is a Choose Your Own Ending. Pessimists and optimists seem to choose according to their natural preference for a glass half empty or a glass half full. I was struck by an odd parallel between the ending of Ethan Frome and the ending of this book. Only, being an optimist, I of course chose a very different result than the finale of Ethan Frome.

If your children have read this book or are currently reading this book, do read it. The language is by design simplistic. The concepts though are much larger, and you will enjoy your discussions with your children. This is a perfect opportunity to slip in some of your own brainwashing by including some of your own views of our current society into the dialogue.

In an attempt to make Eden they produced a Hell.

I kept thinking as I read it of the culling and the brutality that had to occur to gain this much control over human beings. I most certainly would have been RELEASED in the first wave. Compared to a future like this, we are living in a PARADISE. With all our issues, we still have choice. We have color. We have desire. We have ambition. We have a past, a future, and a present. We are not drugged zombies (well most of us, well some of us). We can read a book and see the world from another’s perspective. We can choose our mate, as dicey as that seems for most people. We can have a child, if we choose, who will be The Receiver of our collective memories and in the process we gain another generation of immortality.

Regardless of how everyone feels about this book, I would hope that most people come away from reading it feeling a little better about life as it is now, and also realize the importance of a remembered past and a hopeful future.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
November 5, 2018
3.5/5 Stars! I read this book previously in middle school for English class and was still able to appreciate it almost a decade later.

The Giver is a story that sticks with many of us as it is often a part of required reading in school. I consider it one of the most impactful academic reads from my adolescence as it was one of the first stories to feel targeted towards me. I think the concept is fantastic and appreciate it's method of tackling serious issues through the lens of a teen. Though it was published after many famous dystopian stories of similar nature, I feel The Giver succeeds in resonating with younger readers and challenging them to think critically about society in a way many others cannot.

Reading as an adult though, I do feel I enjoyed it less. I had many more questions about the structure of the world that weren’t answered in text (I’m aware it’s a series, but for a first installment, I feel it could have benefitted with more detail). I felt it was lacking in characterization as I did not feel much attachment to the characters. Additionally, with both times I’ve read this novel, I tend to feel unsatisfied by the ending. The last chapter or so is such a drag in my opinion and doesn’t make me WANT to read more.

Overall, I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy The Giver as much as I did at thirteen but I’m glad I read it a second time.
Profile Image for Jj873.
2 reviews20 followers
August 24, 2008
Upon finishing this book, not 20 minutes ago, I'm left with several thoughts:
1. This book should be required reading for everyone with the emotional maturity to handle it! (I believe that blindly labeling The Giver as a children's book is neither realistic nor necessarily wise, in some instances. Parents would be well advised to thoroughly screen it before offering it to an emotionally sensitive child to read.)

2. Very few things leave me mentally stuttering as I struggle to put my thoughts into words, but, somehow, The Giver has done just that. It will take me a while to be able to make sense of, not the story, but my response to it.

3. The Giver is a deftly crafted work, both stunningly beautiful and deeply disturbing... Finding myself being imperceptibly lulled by the peace, order, safety and serenity of Jonas's world; being awakened by the sickening thud of reality's steel-toed boot in the gut, leaving both him and me breathless and disoriented in the aftermath. This story is haunting and powerful. It's a raw portrayal of the presumed moral sacrifices that man would have to make in order to create and maintain a Utopian society, and the acceptable naivety of the horrors that would accompany it.
Perhaps what is most frightening to me is the way I so easily assumed, at first, that Jonas saw the world as I do.. that the words were being used in the way I understood them. The realization that his newly deposited knowledge gives him is almost terrifying, definitely unnerving. The depth of my emotional response still has me reeling!

4. This is NOT a happy-ending, feel-good read... although I suppose it could be for those who read books without truly experiencing them, but I don't know how to do that, so for me it was a painful experience. I'm glad I read it, as it's made me think about things in a way I wouldn't have otherwise, and I appreciate that. I don't know that I would have read it had I known how real Jonas's and the Giver's pain would be to me.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
October 24, 2019
i have read this so many times throughout my life, that i have lost count. this is definitely the first book that introduced me to a dystopian world and it has become my standard for judging all others.

i think if i picked this up for the first time now, im not sure i would love it as much as i do. with an objective view, i can understand how it might feel outdated with some loose ends. but this will always have a place in my heart for helping me imagine a world and reality outside of my own.

where i originally was drawn to a world where colour does not exist, i grew up to understand the deeper themes of individuality, loneliness, memory and wisdom.

this is a classic story from my childhood that will continue on with me through life.

5 stars
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
September 5, 2021
The Giver (The Giver Quartet, #1), Lois Lowry

The Giver is a 1993 American young adult dystopian novel by Lois Lowry.

It is set in a society which at first appears to be utopian but is revealed to be dystopian as the story progresses.

The novel follows a 12-year-old boy named Jonas. The society has taken away pain and strife by converting to "Sameness", a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives.

Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, as there may be times where one must draw upon the wisdom gained from history to aid the community's decision making.

Jonas struggles with concepts of all the new emotions and things introduced to him: whether they are inherently good, evil, or in between, and whether it is even possible to have one without the other.

The Community lacks any color, memory, climate, or terrain, all in an effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «مامور خاطرات»؛ «بخشنده -کتاب نخست از چهارگانه بخشنده»؛ نویسنده: لوئیس لوری؛تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سیزده ماه آوریل سال 2006میلادی

عنوان: مامور خاطرات؛ نویسنده: لوئیس لوری؛ مترجم: لیلا نائینی؛ تهران، بازتاب نگار، 1385، در 170ص، شابک 9648223297؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

عنوان: بخشنده -کتاب نخست از چهارگانه بخشنده؛ نویسنده: لوئیس لوری؛ مترجم: کیوان عبیدی‌ آشتیانی؛ تهران، نشر چشمه، 1388، در 213ص، شابک9789643626921؛

کتاب نخست: «بخشنده»؛ کتاب دوم: «در جستجوی آبی ها»؛ کتاب سوم: «پیام رسان»؛ کتاب چهارم: «پسر»؛

داستان پسری به نام «جوناس» را، در دوازدهمین سال زندگی او، پی می‌گیرد؛ جامعه، درد و نزاع را، با تبدیل به «همسانی» از بین برده است، برنامه‌ ای که ژرفای احساس را، از زندگی‌ها زدوده است؛ در «بخشنده»، خوانشگر نخست با یک آرمانشهر رودررو است، خبری از مشکلات و نارساییها و جنگ نیست؛ اما سپس نارساییها، یکان یکان آشکار میشوند؛ مردمان در گروههای برساخته قرار میگیرند، و بچه های نسل نو، به سبب نقش خود، که از سوی شوراهای حاکم به آنها سپرده شده، شناخته میشوند، عشق و علاقه ای ندارند و ...؛ پیوند میان افراد، دوستی، عشق، حتی درد و رنج به زندگی معنی می‌دهد، و انسان در قالب همین احساسات است که هویت می‌گیرد، و جایگاه خود را در جهان هستی پیدا می‌کند؛ بخشنده‌ ی واقعی نه پیرمرد، که همان نوجوانی است که حالا با ذهنی باز و هوشیار، سعی دارد روح زندگی را به دنیا برگرداند، و از روح خود به انسان‌ها عشق و امید ببخشد؛ در دنیای خیالی این کتاب، تمام ارزش‌های انسانی، حتی رفتارهای غریزی او، مانند زاد و ولد هم از افراد گرفته شده، همه چیز از نو باز تعریف شده، و برای کوچک‌ترین رفتارها و رویدادها هم قوانینی وجود دارد؛ مهم‌ترین چیزی که در ا��ن میان از بین رفته، خانواده است؛ با از بین رفتن خانواده، تمام حس امنیت، عشق و صمیمیت از بین رفته است؛ حتی دیگر پدربزرگ و مادربزرگ هم معنایی ندارند؛ خانواده دیگر بستری امن و آرام برای رشد و بالندگی افراد نیست؛ چندان مهر و محبتی میان اعضای خانواده دیده نمیشود؛ آن‌ها تنها نقش پدر، مادر و فرزند را بازی می‌کنند، و وظیفه دارند تا از بچه‌ها مراقبت کنند، تا به مرحله‌ی بزرگ‌سالی برسند، زن‌ها و مردها براساس استانداردهای جامعه، و با نظارت سران حکومت، برای زندگی با هم برگزین می‌شوند؛ حتی نوزادان در شرایط یکسان نگهداری می‌گردند و با صلاح‌دید حکومت، به افراد سپرده می‌شوند؛ هر خانواده حق دارد تنها یک دختر و یک پسر داشته باشد؛ انسان‌ها حتی زن، مرد، دختر، یا پسر نامیده نمی‌شوند، افراد یا «مذکر» هستند یا «مونث»؛ خانواده‌ها باید تنها چهار تن باشند و داشتن فرزند سوم جرم سنگینی برای افراد شناخته می‌شود

نقل از متن: («یوناس» قبل از آن‌که دستوری به او داده شود، چشم‌هایش را بست؛ دوباره نزدیکی‌ دست‌های مرد را در پشتش احساس کرد و منتظر ماند؛ اینبار، زودتر حس کرد؛ حالا دست‌ها سرد نبودند؛ او احساس گرما می‌کرد، کمی هم رطوبت؛ گرما در بدنش پخش شد و به شانه‌هایش رسید، بالای گردنش و بعد، یک طرف صورتش؛ او حتی آن را در قسمت‌های پوشیده‌ ی بدنش نیز حس می‌کرد: حسی مطبوع و نوعی هیجان سرتاسر بدنش را فراگرفت؛ وقتی که اینبار لب‌هایش را لیسید، به‌ نظرش آمد هوا داغ و سنگین است؛ حرکتی نکرد...؛ ناگهان کلمه‌ ای به ذهنش آمد؛ آفتاب؛ «یوناس» در حالی که چشم‌هایش را باز می‌کرد، با صدای بلند گفت: «آفتاب»؛ «خوب است، تو خودت کلمه را پیدا کردی؛ این موضوع کار من را ساده‌تر می‌کند، چون احتیاجی به توضیح اضافی نیست»؛ «و از آسمان می‌آمد!»؛ مرد پیر گفت: «درست است، همین‌طور بود».)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 07/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Nataliya.
784 reviews12.5k followers
April 26, 2023
After a re-read, I can no longer think of The Giver as simply a childish sci-fi tale with heavy moralistic leanings.

What I see now is a story about growing up and confronting the world outside of the safe haven of childhood.
Well, yes, of course, it *IS* a dystopian tale about a young boy growing up in the commune of sameness that is devoid of colors or intense feelings or individuality - and the said boy has an unusual ability to experience what the others are missing out on, and he selflessly sets out to bring that experience to others at the cost of his own life, likely, and you can see it as an ode to individuality over sameness, written shortly after the end of the Cold War.

But let's focus on the other aspects first, and worry about this later. Because that's not how I choose to see this book now.
The way I do choose to see it after this reread is a story of a child learning to see past the happy and safe confines of childhood into the bigger world and realizing that the wonderful security of childhood, the rules and foundations of that world no longer apply in the adult universe.
Remember how small and secure the world was for most of us when we were children? There were rules designed to keep the world simple and predictable, and to keep us safe. There were adults who had fascinating jobs and were in charge of keeping our world safe and protected. There was a valid concept of 'that's not fair!' It was simple and secure, and everything happened for a good reason.

At least it's how I remember it through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia.
In this book, I see the realization that people's lives are very different from what you perceive as a child, and that it's going to happen to you, too. That those who were the core of your world not so long ago - family and childhood friends - may drift away and become distant as you make your way through adulthood and form new unexpected and vitally important relationships that overturn the world you are used to.

And you will learn that the world may not be the stable place you know - that there is unexpected beauty just as there is unexpected cruelty and pain. That your feelings will change, will intensify until they reach the peak only possible in the early youth.
All the above is what happens to Jonas - and I think it's an experience that everyone goes through; here it's only underscored by Jonas being a special snowflake (no pun intended). The onslaught of powerful emotions, the feeling of loneliness and not fitting in with the world you grew up in, the sudden knowledge that the world is not what you thought it to be - it's what we all go through when growing up, and that's where the strength of this book lies.

The wave of nostalgia combined with the red sled on the snow - of course it's red.
(I guess we all need some allusions to Citizen Kane's Rosebud hidden in children's literature? So that children can grow up, realize the allusion and say, "oh, hey there...")

Now the things that still make me sigh and shrug. Like the taking-it-for-granted Western culture emphasis on the importance of individualism over collectivism (and, written just a few years after the Cold War, this book of course would have these sentiments of the culture that prevailed). We are conditioned to perceive individuality as a bright alternative to the grey and drab Sameness - but, when you read into it, this book decries this world of Sameness only superficially.
"The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without color, pain, or past."
Yes, it's drab as our special Jonas sees it - but the world that eradicated poverty and war cannot be something to just snicker at.

One of the motifs here is that pain is important, that pain helps shape us into full human beings with full emotional range - but isn't it often a fairy tale we, adults, tell ourselves, thus making us feel better about our imperfect world full of pain and suffering and senseless wars and hunger? These are what makes our human experience full, we say; this is the price of being able to let our individualities shine.
"But why can't everyone have the memories? I think it would seem a little easier if the memories were shared. You and I wouldn't have to bear so much by ourselves, if everybody took a part."

The Giver sighed. "You're right," he said. "But then everyone would be burdened and pained. They don't want that. And that's the real reason The Receiver is so vital to them, and so honored. They selected me - and you - to lift that burden from themselves."
But is returning to the world we all know - the world that has teeth and can bite you with them anytime it wants (yes, that's a nod to Stephen King, why'd you ask?) - the only way to happiness? Superficially, this book seems to suggest that it may be - but the fact that it made me think past what's on the surface suggests otherwise. Written for children, it does have something for adults to ponder about.
And even more of the beautiful ambiguity for me lies in the ending - Jonas' fate.

For ten-year-olds reading this book, it's probably Jonas and Gabriel finally reaching the idyllic place of love and warmth and the happy exhilaration of that first memory of red sled on a hill becoming reality.

For adults, it's the happiness of the final dream of red sled - Rosebud? - in the moments before your consciousness fades into death. However you choose to see the ending is up to you. To me, it's the final sacrifice of Jonas for the sake of the others - individuality that makes the sacrifice for the good of community. It's touching and powerful, and is the perfect way to end the story.

3.5 red sleds - rounding up to 4.
Profile Image for Candace.
1,176 reviews4,334 followers
March 18, 2017
Yesterday, I took a road trip with my two daughters to get pick up my 88 year-old grandmother, who will be staying with us through the holiday season. At 5 and 9 years-old, my usual audiobook choices were clearly not an option. So, I found myself listening to some books that definitely are not my usual type, yet again.

With over 4 1/2 hours in the car each way, we were able to finish 2 audiobooks from start to finish. By pure coincidence, they both ended up being authored by Lois Lowry. I have never been more engaged in a children's book than I was during this road trip. I was completely lost in these stories, as were my children.

The first book that we listened to was 'The Giver'. What a captivating, albeit bleak, fictional world Ms. Lowry has created! I was absolutely spellbound by her storytelling.

Set in the future, Jonas lives in a community that has traded their humanity for the illusion of safety. They block anything that would trigger the emotional highs and lows that define a person's life as we now know it. They don't experience the heartache of loss, but they never give in to the joys of life either. They are shells, robotic in their day to day existence and devoid of emotion.

Although this is a children's book, it had a feeling eerily similar to George Orwell's '1984'. Independent thinking was non-existent. People "confessed" their thoughts, dreams and rule violations. The presence of the omnipresent leaders in their homes, ruling their lives, was pervasive and all-powerful.

Jonas is getting ready to experience the ceremony of 12. This particular ceremony is an important one in the community, a rite of passage into adulthood. It is at this ceremony that each child is assigned their job within the community. They will remain in their assigned role until they are no longer productive and they are "released".

Unlike the other children, Jonas is unsure of his calling within the community. He doesn't feel a clear draw to one occupation or another. He is worried of what the future holds for him and he is beginning to notice some unusual things that others do not.

Jonas is ultimately assigned a very prestigious role within the community. It is perhaps the most important role in the community, but comes with a tremendous burden. He cannot share his experiences with anyone other than the man that he will be replacing, the current "receiver". As his training progresses, Jonas comes to question everything that he has ever been taught.

From beginning to end, this book held my rapt attention. It was beautifully written and thought provoking. 'The Giver' serves as a cautionary tale to the human race, warning of what can become when we censor our very emotions and blot out all of the differences that make us unique individuals.

There was plenty of action and suspense along the way. It was also a much more emotional read than I had anticipated. I'll never forget the look on my 9 year-old's face when some of the true meanings of different phrases, like "released", truly sunk in. Don't even get me going on baby Gabe! Luckily, I think most of that went over the head of my 5 year-old.

Overall, I thought that this was a spectacular book! It is one that I would not have normally read, but I'm so glad that I did. I can only hope that the lessons learned will resonate with my daughter and the other children that read it. An all-around great story! I'll probably download the next books in the series for our next road-trip to take "Nana" home after the holidays.

See more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com
Profile Image for Joyzi.
340 reviews422 followers
November 9, 2010
My Reaction After Reading This:
wtf haruhi Pictures, Images and Photos

2 stars





(*coughs* sorry I forgot to turn off the CAPSLOCK, I'm not shouting or anything *coughs* just please don't judge me *coughs* if you like the book, I respect you for that, but I really can't force myself into believing I like this book _(>.<)V)

Okay I'll try to explain what I don't like about it:
1. The book is boring.
2. The book is weird.
3. I don't feel any emotions at all towards the character.
4. I don't really understand the book.
5. I don't really understand the ending.
6. I don't really understand why this Utopia world should have no colors, no feelings and no music so that the people would live *coughs* decently.
7. I don't really understand why the children at age whatever should be given ribbons, what's the purpose of that?
8. I don't really understand why the characters should tell about their dreams to their parents.
9. I don't understand why Johnas has to take medications because he was having Stirrings. So stirrings for those who haven't read the book is somewhat closer to wet dreams.
10. I don't understand why the memories of war, loss etc. would make someone want to end his/her life or give up on life. I know that life is imperfect but it seems that the characters have no backbone, like idk I don't buy the logic of that one.
11. In short I don't really understand this at all!

If you're wondering whether I've read this one because it's a school requirement, the answer is NO. I buy this book because I've seen it on the list of best YA book here on Goodreads so many times. And if these book is bombarded with symbolism then please explain this to me(since I don't have brains for symbolism PEOPLE!), especially the ending (What the Fudge is that?) and I might change my rating, I repeat might.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
1,028 reviews17.7k followers
August 10, 2023

Hang on to your books...

In these days when memories, and indeed history, are being overwritten by bland sameness we still think of Lois Lowry.

We have indeed come much too far to regress, and I think - now that all Givers are segregated from the heap, and pretty well left to their own devices - that we are all forced to cut our losses and smile wistfully at our lost pasts.

Our pasts seem, more and more now, jagged and uneven - but my own past I am not willing to sever from my soul.


We who Give must still give optimally.

We must share our Memories with Anyone willing to listen.

We must enrich our conversation with archaic usages that carry a valuable lost TREASURY of MEANING.

And above all, we must be OURSELVES stubbornly in a world that puts us on hold and plays Muzak to soothe our ruffled feathers.

We must LIVE.

We must be OURSELVES.

We must never FEAR THE CROWD!

My friends, someday we may be given a BLUNT CHOICE:

Les Paradis Artificiels -

Or Freedom.

I only hope I personally will always choose the second option.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
July 17, 2014
Reread just in time for the new movie!

I've been meaning to come back to The Giver and write a better review for some time now and the soon-to-be-released movie seemed like as good an excuse as any. My rating remains the same even though it's been several years (and many badly-written YA dystopias) since I last picked this up. I still think it's a good book, with an interesting concept and sophisticated writing... but I was never 100% sold.

For one thing, the protagonist and narrator has just turned twelve years old. While I'm glad that authors are writing thought-provoking books for younger children, there is a lack of depth in the narrative which was necessary in order for it to be a realistic portrait of a child's mind. The society and themes explored by the novel might have been more effective through the eyes of someone older, in my opinion.

In the story, citizens of this society are united by a "sameness" that fosters peace, cooperation and general well-being. Everyone is equal and everything is chosen for you... your spouse, your occupation, even the children you receive. As the novel opens, it appears to be a utopian world. But things are not all as they first seem. When Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, his mind is opened to the dark secrets of the society he was born into. He learns that harmony has a price and it might just be more than he's willing to pay.

This book gradually explores and perhaps challenges the notion that ignorance is bliss. How much is it worth to live peaceful - if empty - lives? I like the idea of it far more than I like the novel itself. The strength of the novel is not in the plot, writing or characters... but in the wandering thoughts you are left with and the strange sense of unease it imparts.

I understand why readers of Matched felt compelled to compare the two - the functioning of the societies is almost identical and the MCs experience some similar dilemmas, though Matched is far more romantic. I suppose it is further evidence of how influential this little book has been on the genre. The concepts are, for me, definitely stronger than the characters. And the ambiguous ending pleased me in the way it was crafted, rather than causing me to fret over Jonas' fate.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,990 followers
October 7, 2016
At one point I wrote a review for this book. That review was very well written and could have won awards! Sadly, when I went to submit it was one of the times that the Goodreads server crashed and the review was lost for the ages . . . only I will ever remember how truly great that review was!

On to a new review that will be much shorter and definitely inferior to the original.

This is one of the granddaddies of the YA dystopian genre. Without this book we may not have The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, etc.

I enjoyed this book . . . and I was frustrated by this book. I believe the fact that I was a new father at the time of reading made the subject matter difficult - I swear you will hug your kids right after finishing this. Twice while reading I threw this book across the room - that is not an exaggeration. I was so shocked by what I read that the book was propelled as far away from me as possible.

As an adult this book was hard to read and I cannot imagine reading it as a young adult. If my kids read this when they are teenagers, it is one I will definitely have to talk to them about before and after.

I did finish the series, and overall it is very enjoyable - and the other books are not quite as shocking as this one! (at least, none of them were launched!)
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,731 followers
August 4, 2017
مـاذا لــو كــان الإنسان مســـيرا وليس مـخــيرا؟

وماذا لو كانت هناك مساواة كاملة مطلقة؟
لا أختلاف أديان، ولا لون بشرة مختلف عن الأخر..بل لا ألوان علي الإطلاق
بالطبع فلا عنصرية هنا..لا أحكام مسبقة
نعم..قد يكون هناك عدل مطلق، مجتمع منظم يسير كالساعة
لا يمكنك مخالفة القانون اكثر من مرة وإلا فسيتم اخراجك من ذلك المجتمع
يختار لك منذ صغرك المجال الذي ستدرب فيه..ثم يجد لك عملا يناسبك
يختار لكل فرد زوجه او زوجته طبقا لنظام مراقبة يناسبا بعضهما
ثم نختار لكما ابن واحد وابنة واحدة يناسبكما
فالزواج ليس كاملا بعواطف وعلاقة كما تظن
هذه هي اسرتك..هذا هو عملك..وعندما تكبر تجلس بدار المسنين برعايه متكاملة..لحين خروجك من المجتمع

مجتمعا يربط بين افراده روابط يحكمها القانون وليست العواطف الإنسانية المختلفة
مجتمعا بلا حروب ، بلا مجاعات ، مجتمعا بلا فقراء ولا اغنياء ، مجتمعا به مساواة

ولتحقيق المساواة كان يجب التضحية ببعض الاشياء..غير العواطف البشرية
يري القائمون علي المجتمع انها تضحية لازمة لجعل مجتمعهم منضبط
ليكون مجتمعا منضبط بقوانين كانضباط الكون

يوتوبيا ديستوبيا عجيبة.. يوتوبيا لأن المجتمع منضبط، مثالي ، بلا مشاكل
ديستوبيا ﻻنه بلا...مشاعر ، روح، ألوان ولا حتي جمال

رواية لا يمكني ان اصف ما شعرت به تجاهها
لاني بهذا سؤثر في رايك، وهذا ليس هدفها علي الاطلاق

ماذا اذا كنت كما يظن البعض مسيرا بالفعل؟ وتشكك في انك مخير؟
ماذا ان كان كل افعالنا لا تخضع للإرادة الحرة
لا مجال لعواطف ومشاعر قد تعيقنا من ��لتقدم
لا حب، لا تعاطف، إذن لا كراهية لا بغض
لا حروب، لا دمار

لا يوجد مكان بين المجتمع للضعفاء، إذن لا مجاعات، لا فقر، لا شقاء

ستكون اذن حياتك مثل جوناس بطل الرواية

روايه فلسفية بالرغم من انها سهلة وسلسة جدا في احداثها
تناقش امر رهيب دون تعقيد ودون اي مساس بالدين
فكانت رواية مناسبه للجميع
وبالرغم انه لا يوجد اكشن
لايوجد صراع وإثارة
لايوجد قصه حب
لايوجد سحر

ومع ذلك لم اشعر بادني ملل بالعكس
أثارت بي التساؤلات كثيرا

الديستوبيا الشبابية
YA Dystopia

بالرغم من ان الرواية تعود للتسعينات، 1992، الا انها تعتبر سابقة لعصرها في مجال الدبيستوبيا الشبابية او للنشء، تسبق الروايات الشهيرة الحالية باكثر من 15 عاما مثل
Hunger Games, Divergent, City of Amber
وغيرها ، بل اكاد ان اجزم انك ستجد ملمح من هذه الروايات موجود في تلك الرواية الاصلية

أسلوب الروي أيضا مثير ، بطل القصة "جوناس" ستشعر بمدي قلقه يوم الاختيار ،ليعرف التدريب الذي سيحدد وظيفته في المستقبل بطريقه مثيرة..ترقب يحبس الانفاس ومشهد مكتوب بشكل جيد جدا

بل وان الصفحات العشر الأخيرة..كنت احبس انفاسي بالرغم من عدم وجود اكشن او مطاردة مثيرة مثلا..كنت مرعوبا بالرغم من عدم وجود رعب

كنت مكان جوناس ... كنت معاه اتخذ القرار الاخير

النهاية تراها انت بعينك..وقد ترتاح لها حسب حالتك النفسية وقت القراءة

وانا اغلق صفحات الكتاب لم اكن منتظرا جزءا ثان..وفعلا لا اريد جزء ثان يستكمل لي الاحداث انا في غني عن معرفتها
نهاية ستحبها لانها نابعة من شعورك وتابعة لحالتك المزاجية

نهاية ستجعلك تفكر كثيرا جدا..جدا
هل مشاعرنا وعواطفنا البشرية هي فعلا سبب الحروب والشقاء؟
هل إرادتنا الحرة هي سبب الظلم؟ هل اختيارنا الاديان المختلفة هي سبب الحروب
هل عدم تحكمنا في المناخ او خلق الله هو سبب الكوارث؟

رواية صغيرة جهنمية ستشعر فعلا ان الحياة لايجب ان تكون هكذا
بنهاية اعتقد انها ستجعل الرواية تلتصق بذهنك لفترة طويلة جدا..حياة عشتها وجربتها في مجتمع لتكون تجربة لك تضيف معني جديد لك
سواء اتفقت مع هذا المجتمع او اختلفت عنه
ولكنك لن تنس مصير جوناس
والذي ، تذكر، انت نفسك من سيشهده

بالرغم من اعجابي بكل شخصيات الرواية..الرجل الحكيم وعائله جوناس واصدقاءه ولكن الاهم هو مصير الفكرة نفسها

الرواية دخلت عالمها بالصدفة -كما اشتريتها حتي صدفة - لاني اعتقد انها مجرد روايه فلسفية "خاصا بعد قراءه اولاد حارتنا / الله والانسان ثم حوار مع صديقي الملحد" ولكني وجدت انها روايه ديستوبيا بطلها ولد في الثانيه عشر من عمره
وفوجئت عندما تعرفت اكثر علي عالمه
ذلك المجتمع الذي كتبت عنه في البداية

اكتشفت انها روايه تستكمل رحلتي في قراءات العام..ترد علي ذلك العذاب الذي تعذبته في تشوش الرمز مع "اولاد حارتنا" و تخبط افكار "الله والانسان" فهي تجعلك تفكر في حقيقة هل الانسان مخير ام مسير..وجائت الفرصة مع هذه الرواية البسيطة ذات الاسلوب السهل الممتع والفكره الشامله الاكثر عمقا

هي رواية ديستوبيا شبابية تعتبر سابقة لكثير ممن صدر مؤخرا ك
The Hunger Games
بالرغم من ان الاخيرة فعلا واضح تأثرها بتلك الرواية الصادرة في بداية التسعينات

كما شعرت بشئ من التشابهة مع هاري بوتر في جزئية التنسيق

رواية احببتها جدا
واعتقد انها صارت واحدة من اهم الروايات التي قراءتها وبداية متميزة لقراءات العام

محمد العربي
من 9 يناير 2014
الي 15 يناير 2014

"تقريبا لأول مره أكتب رأي عن رواية فور الانتهاء منها
ولكنها ستظل في بالي لفترة طويلةبحق"
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,254 followers
March 23, 2012

brief synopsis: at some point far in the future, an 11-year old boy named Jonas comes of age in an unnamed utopic community. coming of age means he is given his life's work; in Jonas' case, he is chosen to be The Receiver. he is given memories of all that came before and the responsibility of advising his community by accessing those memories. and as he takes in those memories, he gradually comes to realize that his idyllic little community is not so utopic after all.

do you remember the first time you realized that other people had their own lives - ones entirely apart from you, that have nothing to do with you whatsoever? i do. my cousin Christie - who i had a sizable crush on - was talking about what she had done in the days before. it slowly dawned on me that there were things that happened when i was not around, things that were important and interesting and had nothing whatsoever to do with me. i remember looking around the room and seeing the adults, and realizing that they too did not just disappear when they weren't in my presence. and then, in a flash, understanding that they had their own feelings and thoughts and plans that were just as important to them as mine were to me. i suppose it was my first exposure to the idea of empathy, of seeing people living lives in parallel to mine - rather than just in connection to mine - and feeling feelings that i felt, but had nothing to do with me. it was a startling realization for a budding young sociopath.

all of the above came back to me when reading The Giver. my favorite parts of this children's book were those points where young Jonas puts himself in other's shoes, tries to understand the motivations of his friends & family & community, angrily rejects the choices that some make, and experiences empathetic connections with The Giver (whose job he is taking over) - his failed but brave predecessor, and the baby Gabriel. i thought those parts were genuinely thrilling, sometimes painful, and often beautiful in their simplicity.

and yet the concept of empathy is not really what The Giver is about. simply put, it is a perhaps rather familiar tale of the importance of Individuality and of Individual Choice. i have absolutely no problem with that message... i just don't have a whole lot to say on the topic. seems like a no-brainer to me.

The Giver accomplishes its goals with ease. the prose is simple and straightforward and clear. the narrative moves from the depiction of a rather pleasant and happy community to the portrait of a community that is horrifying in its blind need for pleasant happiness for all. because the reader quickly realizes that not everything is perfect in perfectville, there was an overall tone of slowly building unease that was expertly handled. whether it is wondering about what "Release" truly means, the reappropriation of the word "animal" to mean a "foolish person", or worrying about the eventual fate of the infant Gabriel, Lois Lowry weaves in her troubling undercurrents in a way that is understated and yet still manages to pack an emotional punch. i did not feel manipulated. all in all, this is a striking novel for kids, one with an important message, and i am happy it is required reading in many schools.

it is also a surprisingly controversial novel. the complaints seem to boil down to three major concerns:

(1) The Giver is either too sophisticated for children or too unsophisticated for adults

(2) The Giver does not stand up to literary criticism; The Giver has constant lapses into illogic

(3) The Giver is anti-socialist propaganda

okay, i was going to spend some time (and who knows how many boring paragraphs) in attempting to refute all of those criticisms, point by point. eh, who cares. people will always have their opinions. my major response right now is OH, GIVE ME A BREAK, THAT IS SUCH BULLSHIT. i did not see illogic in The Giver; i saw a pleasingly straightforward morality tale, a fable of sorts. i think this is a book that kids can easily handle and to think otherwise is to think little of a kid's capacity for understanding. as far as being too unsophisticated for adults or not standing up to literary criticism, honestly all i can do is yawn at such trite and trifling accusations. and regarding the novel being anti-socialist propaganda... i just have to roll my eyes and yawn again. the timeless message of The Giver certainly moves it beyond any pointed crique of any particular style of government. seriously... duh. stop hatin', haters. don't get it twisted. if you want something to hate, exert yourself over Ayn Rand instead - who takes a similar message and perverts it until the message about individuality becomes abhorrent and disgusting. unlike the atrocious Fountainhead, the message here is a pure one.

and that's that. this is a great book. if they haven't read it already, give it to the kids in your life; i know i will.

one last thing: The Giver reminded me a lot of the equally wonderful Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron. read that one too, it's awesome.
Profile Image for Stacey.
160 reviews51 followers
April 24, 2008
How have I missed out on this book for so many years? The premise of living a life without agency is something to think about. I can't tell you how often I have wished (prayed) for a world filled with only peace and happiness, where no one feels pain, hunger or sadness. This book made me seriously rethink that wish and realize - once and for all - that without feeling the depths of sadness, we can never know happiness. What an amazing story!
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
August 19, 2017
"What does 'release' mean in The Giver?", my daughter asked me this morning, when she had just started reading the novel on a strong recommendation from myself and both her older brothers.

"I can't tell you that, it will spoil the reading experience!" I answered. "What do you think of the book so far?"

"Well, the community has many rules."

"Is that good or bad, do you think?"

"I don't know, some rules are good, but some seem a bit too much. Like not being allowed to choose your profession."

We went on to talk about rules serving to protect human beings from chaos (like traffic rules, for example, or rules that protect the freedom and well-being of all people acting in a shared space), and rules serving to control thoughts and actions (like oppressive dogma).

Later, when I arrived at school, I changed an introductory lesson plan for my mentor class to include a discussion on the validity of certain rules (like school rules, for example), and the importance of distinguishing them from oppressive ones. Reading and talking about books with my children has a major effect on my professional choices.

In the evening, my daughter came back into my room, looking sad and bewildered. She had figured out what "release"stands for, and she was confused. This is her first encounter with dystopian fiction, and she was shocked by the power of euphemisms (without knowing the term itself). My middle son joined the discussion and reprimanded me for telling his sister what the word means.

"I figured it out myself!" she said, and he nodded approvingly.

"We spent several lessons discussing release in class", he added, and started talking about the ethical dilemma of the book: how much did the characters know of the sinister undercurrents of the community? Since they were deliberately held outside history and memory, and were taught limited facts, how much understanding could they possibly have gained?

"Jonas' dad was a nice man!" My kids insisted. And still he released the baby.

"Rosemary released herself, and I don't think she was a failure at all, she just couldn't bear all those feelings without anyone to share. It is horrible if you are alone!" My daughter is adamant.

I listened to my children, communicating their thoughts, reflecting on a society so scared of passionate emotions and painful memories that they have abolished them, and I felt grateful that we aren't there just yet. We still read books, talk about them, communicate our worries, reflect on the good and bad aspects of highly regulated societies, and we all see the different colours in the world. We may not like them, and we may be scared of both colours and sounds and emotions that we aren't familiar with, but we have not turned into complacent, numb non-thinkers like the people in the world of The Giver. We still care enough to have all those scary feelings: fear, anger, frustration, passionate love and longing.

Let us keep reading and talking and communicating with the next generation to prevent our world from becoming careless and resistant to human emotions. Let us practice the skill of giving and receiving knowledge of the world and help each other carry the pain it brings, so that joy is not lost along with sorrow.

The Giver is a perfect novel to introduce the great questions of our time to a young and curious audience!
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,178 followers
August 23, 2020
I read this dystopian YA novel in two sittings, at the urging of a real-life friend. He said I should try to imagine my 12-year old self reading it, which would have been at boarding school, where I was in a house of 34 girls aged 11-16. It was a really interesting way to read it. Here’s the reviewer:

12-year old Cecily’s review (as imagined by adult Cecily)

I didn’t get excited about my 12th birthday last month because it was my first one away from home. A couple of girls had birthdays last term, so I knew what to expect, and it was nice, but it’s not the same. Nothing is really, but mostly I quite like it here. The libraries are good, and there’s plenty of time to read because when we’ve done our homework there’s not much else to do. We’re hardly ever allowed to watch TV and we can only go out on Saturday mornings when matron takes us to the village shops and Sundays when we have to go to church. At least we don’t have to wear uniform on Saturdays.

In the book, Jonas is going to be 12. He’s not excited either, more like slightly anxious, because his community has a big Ceremony for his whole year group when their lives change forever because everyone is assigned their job and has to start training - but still go to school as well. I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, but that’s OK. I don’t want someone else telling me - not even my parents (I know what they’d say anyway). I’m just glad I don’t have to decide yet.

The community is safe and polite and fair, but it’s a bit odd too. Jonas lives with his parents and sister, but everyone and everything is very samey and there are lots of rules. The children have to wear uniforms according to their age. Every evening, every family discusses their feelings and every morning they discuss their dreams. That’s weird, but it’s better than Miss S droning on with Bible readings and prayers and stuff. Actually, Jonas’ life is a bit like being a daygirl at this school.

Anyway, at the Ceremony, Jonas thinks he’s been forgotten. It’s even worse than being the last one to be picked for a team because it’s in front of everyone. It’s OK though: he’s given a really important job as apprentice Receiver of Memory. After school each day, he goes to the old man who is now The Giver and gets memories by a sort of touching telepathy. It’s a bit magical, but not like in a children’s story.

I hate it when grown ups say I’m too young to know stuff, but in his community, there’s tons of stuff no one is allowed to know except the Giver and Receiver. The first memories Jonas is given are nice, but some of them aren’t, and Jonas doesn’t understand all of them. Almost every time I had a question, Jonas asked it, and The Giver told him/me. The memories change Jonas. He sees and understands everything differently - more than the grown ups do, and because of his job, he’s allowed to break rules that even adults aren’t allowed to. That’s another thing that’s unfair here: the older girls have fewer rules than we do, but we’re just as sensible. I want to be grown up, but part of me doesn’t want to. It’s a bit scary.

Jonas’ friends like their jobs, but they’re not special like his is, and he is less and less like them, so he gets a bit lonely. Everyone and everything isn’t the same any more. And gradually Jonas realises lots of things he was told aren’t really true, and there’s bad stuff and bad people too.

Knowing the memories makes Jonas want to make the community fairer and better. So then the book changes almost to a different one, but with the same character. In the first part he was a happy child in his family and community, and then it turns into an adventure where he has a lot of responsibility, like an adult, and he chooses to do something important and dangerous because he knows it’s right. I’m not sure if I’d be that brave, but I hope I would. It was dreamy and exciting, but the ending was strange: I’m not sure if it was happy or sad or imagined.

I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t like anything else I’ve read. Some of my friends would enjoy it too, but not all of them. Unlike the people in Jonas’ community, we’re not all the same.

Image: Apple, with glimpse of red, by Spudwaka (Source.)

Adult Cecily’s thoughts

I enjoy dystopian fiction, but rarely YA, especially not works at the younger end, as this is. Without a real life YA by my side, it’s harder to identify with the characters, so my suspension of disbelief is less willing or able, and thus I’m more distracted by plot holes, inconsistency, and implausibility. (Yes, I know the last of those is a high bar for dystopias.) If I’d read this without trying to imagine my younger self, I would probably have given it 2*.

I think 12-year old Cecily would give 4* or maybe even 5*. She’d notice the link between the apple and knowledge (and probably roll her eyes and turn the page), have some interest in weighing whether the ends justify the means, and understand the emerging theme of sacrifice. I’m not sure the full horror of a life without colour (literal and especially emotional), music, and landscape would hit her, but I do remember that she was thinking a lot about the fact you can’t have good without evil, and vaguely, childishly, contemplating relative and absolute morality around that time, so sacrificing the experience of love to avoid hate and war would chime.

I doubt the issue of sameness protecting people from making the wrong choice would interest her much, and certainly any extrapolation to racism and integration would not occur to her. She would probably (deliberately) gloss over exactly how “the Stirrings” relate to male puberty.

I hope she’d note the vocabulary creating an escalating feeling of familiarity with this unsettling community: a newchild, the Old, sleepingroom, release, and male and female (avoiding the age distinction of girl/boy and woman/man). As a tomboy, I also hope she’d notice the non-traditional gender roles (other than each family being allowed one boy and one girl): it’s Jonas’ father who’s a Nurturer and his mother who has an important government role.

At 12, with fairytales recently relinquished (not that they ever really are), she’d probably accept the mechanics of memories unquestioningly. Adult Cecily was puzzled by how they’re transferred (the process itself was a bit creepy), how they’re released, when they’re retained, let alone how it’s possible to create communities where people have “forgotten” things as fundamental as colour. To borrow a point from creationists(!), where’s the missing link - what would have been the interim stages to get to this point? (I also wonder whether people were originally persuaded, coerced, or brainwashed - but I don’t mind that being unanswered.)

The biggest, and completely unnecessary, inconsistency is that the whole community is built around sameness, but inexplicably, there’s one type of it that cannot be tolerated. This was “necessary” for the plot, but could have been achieved with a slightly different prohibition.

Giving adult jobs to 12-year olds in a world with machines and even computers, stretches credulity (even though it still happens in many parts of the world), but Jonas can’t be older because of the extended metaphor of puberty. Children and YA tend to prefer protagonists slightly older than they are, but not all ten-year olds would fully appreciate this.

If you’re an adult contemplating reading this, do so alongside a young adult, whether that be your inner child, or one you raise or look after.

Image: Cover art by Ashley Barlow (Source.)


• “Our community can’t function smoothly if people don’t use precise language.”

• “Love… a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete.”

• “Mirrors were rare in the community; they weren’t forbidden, but there was no real need of them.”

• “The life where nothing was ever unexpected. Or inconvenient. Or unusual. The life without colour, pain or past.”

• “The joy of being an individual, special and unique and proud.”

• “It's the choosing that's important, isn't it?”

• “After a life of sameness and predictability, he was awed by the surprises that lay beyond each curve of the road.”

Related fiction

• For 12 to adult, Ursula Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas, which I reviewed HERE.

• For adults and introspective older teens, Catherine Lacey’s Pew, which I reviewed HERE.
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,623 followers
October 4, 2018
Thoroughly impressed by "The Giver," a two-decade old gem in a genre that basically always leaves me wanting more. No, this is concise & has all the basic elements of a dystopian horror tale. The sketchy subjects of individuality and color (in that pleasant "Pleasantville" way) and community are handled incredibly well (yes, "Hunger Games" is a rip off of this & Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and William Golding's "Lord of the Flies")--the subject of infanticide just gives this classic YA the push requisite to make it epic & essential both.

Because we were on the topic of the Holocaust, we were given to read "Number the Stars" (also exemplary) so I never got to experience this. Perhaps I would've become a bigger fan of sci-fi (or YA novels) well into adulthood?
Profile Image for Clumsy Storyteller .
350 reviews726 followers
October 16, 2016
I Loved it, I remember reading it on the beach :D, Major worldbuilding, a chilling and exciting story line, a very interesting dystopian novel.

In this book everyone is identical, choices are very limited. Every aspect of life is controlled and decided by elders of the community, everyone is content simply because they don't know any different, but Jonas (the hero) is different, he sees things no one else can see.

"Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back."

Jonas is chosen to be the next "Receiver", The giver is the only man in the community who holds memories like color, sun, pain, war, courage, happiness, Love, emotions because the people can’t handle them and in case they needed guidance, Jonas slowly receives memories from the giver, Through his training, he discovers secrets of the time before theirs, and discovers that the Community is not as perfect as it seems.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
December 6, 2018
Jonas' world seems like a utopia of peace and harmony with little conflict and everyone doing their job. That is, until Jonas is selected to be the new Receiver of Memories and learns utopia isn't all it's cracked up to be...

Once upon a time, sometime in the nebulous nineties when the only things I read were Star Wars and Anne Rice, my brother was assigned to read this in school. My mom read it after him and assigned it to me. Now, years later, my wife and I read it together. It still holds up.

The world Jonas lives in is one largely free of choices and free of strong emotions. People are assigned jobs, assigned families, and largely assigned lives. No one remembers the past or even realizes they're being denied freedom by no being able to decide things for themselves. No one except The Receiver of Memories, that is. As Jonas studies under the previous Receiver of Memories, the titular Giver, he sees all the things lurking under the surface of his perfect world.

I don't know much about Lois Lowry's influences but I see some Brave New World in this book's lineage with a dash of Handmaid's Tale. It's written as a YA book but I was an adult both times I read and enjoyed it. The book explores such themes as family, the value of choice, the importance of history, the dangers of blind conformity, and things of that nature. It's also a great story.

Two decades after I first read it, The Giver is still a great read. Once my wife recovers, we'll probably attack the other books set in the same world. 5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,945 followers
April 25, 2010
I was a little creeped out when I first started reading this story. In fact, I almost didn't continue. It seemed like some kind of freaky propaganda for a fundamentalist society where everyone obeys without question and acts all fake nicey-nice and pretends everything is fine when it's not. I kept reading just to find out why the book is so popular. I really liked it once I found out what was going on. It's the opposite of what I thought at first. Conformity and uniformity are traps that rob us of life's riches. Jonas shows the courage it takes to step out of society's box of expectations and reach for something finer. For those who do, it's usually a lonely path.

I'm very glad I didn't read any of the "anal"ytical reviews here until after I'd read the book. It's a young adult book, for crying out loud! These people who pick it apart and assign it all kinds of evil intent and religious meaning really should not read fiction---especially not teen fiction. Yeah, I could have picked it apart too, but my junior high self would not have done so, and I tried to read it in that spirit.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
762 reviews570 followers
February 22, 2023
Why I chose to read this book:
1. I read Lois Lowry's book Number the Stars a few years ago and learned a lot about how Denmark was affected during WWII. Btw, this book falls under a completely different genre;
2. I have heard about this book over the years and wanted to see why it was required reading in some schools; and,
3. February 2023 is my "Books for Young and Old Alike" Month.

1. such an interesting premise for a utopian/dystopian novel! Several times I had to stop in order to absorb what I just read - scenes would just blow me away!
2. many questions that I had were answered satisfactorily; however, I did wonder ; and,
3. the ending warmed my heart.

Overall Thoughts:
This so-called "perfect world" was quite chilling, and at times, heartbreaking! But sometimes I wonder - what if we didn't have free will? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all followed the rules of morality and behaved ourselves? We may get a sense of warmth and security, but at what cost? The loss of individuality and of free choice?

I had no idea at all what this book was about, so I am very glad I trusted Lowry and took the time to read it. Extremely thought-provoking!
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