The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry
Reading Range: 5.7 (AR Finder)
Interest Range: 4-8 (AR Finder)
Plot: This book is set in a future where everything seems perfect and everyone is the same. The families all have a mother, a father, a son and a daughter. Everyone is given a role in the community and they are given training to fulfill that role. There are rules to living in the community that must be obeyed. If these rules are not obeyed, they can be released. People who are old or not useful are also released. Jonas is the main character in this story. He is turning twelve which means he is an adult in his community. For the children, they have Ceremonies for each age from one to twelve. For example, the Ones are given to their families. For the Twelves, they receive their roles in the community. Jonas received the role of “The Giver.” What this means is he carries memories of times in the past. He discovers how restrict his community really is and what it means to be released. He starts to question everything he has learned in his life. When he discovers a child his family has been caring for is to be released, he has to decided what he will do.
Review: The book questions what it means to live in a perfect society and what one has to give up to live there. In Jonas’ world there is no war, hunger or poverty. Many of the problems we have now are gone. In order to have this world a lot had to be given up. Privacy and choice are not allowed. They are monitored and their transgressions are broadcast to the community. From birth to death, everyone’s life in the Community is mapped out. They know what will happen at each stage of life. Those that are not useful are released or killed. Jonas starts to question this when he begins his training with the Giver. He starts to realized how restrictive his world really is. He sees and experiences things that no longer exist in his world. He starts to feel real emotions during this time. They use medicines to blunt emotions including lust. I would recommend this book but I would recommend it to older tween readers. There is some material and ideas that might be too much for them. It would be a good idea to talk with them after they read the book.
Additional Info:
This book has been challenged and restricted in some libraries and classrooms. There are some scenes that made parents uncomfortable. Jonas and his friend, Fiona, volunteer in their version of a nursing home. They are helping to bathe residents. It is not explicit.
Main Characters:
Jonas –He is the main character of the story. He is about to become a Twelve. At his Ceremony of Twelve, he is given the job of the Giver.
The Giver –He has the most important role of the community. He can experiences true emotions because of his role. He carries memories of many lifetimes and he shares those memories with Jonas. It is hinted that Jonas might be his son.
Lily –She is Jonas’s younger sister in his family. She will become an Eight.
Gabriel (Gabe) –He is a baby that his family is taking care of because he needs extra nurturing. He does not sleep through the night until Jonas takes care of him. It is hinted that Gabe might be Jonas’s biological brother.
Asher –He is Jonas’s best friend. Asher is a happy boy who often is getting into minor trouble.
Jonas’s “father” –He works as a Nurturer taking care of newchildren until they are given to their families. Jonas thinks he is kind and loving. He is not Jonas’s biological father.
Jonas’s “mother” –She works as a judge at the Department of Justice. She is more intelligence then her husband. She is not Jonas’s biological mother.
Fiona –She is another of Jonas’s friends. She is assigned to be a Caretaker of the Old.

Theme: Chaos and order, Disillusionment, Fate and free will, Individual versus society, Totalitarianism

Bibliographic Info:

Lowry, L. (1993) The Giver. New York, NY: Laurel-Leaf Books.

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