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The Giver by Lois Lowry

Review by Dania

the giver book cover

The Giver is an original and morally based novel that sheds like upon the issues of a utopian society.  

Jonas, the main character of the story, is part of a utopian society in which the emotions and concepts of pain, suffering, crime, and greed do not exist. Each year on a child's birthday, he/she is celebrated for turning a year closer to twelve. For everyone in the community, becoming twelve is a triumph and is an incredible milestone as they receive their life assignment. However, Jonas does not anticipate this moment like the rest of the kids. Instead, he spends his birthday celebrations worrying about the year to come. When Jonas turns twelve, he is given the assignment that no one has ever received in years: the Receiver of Memories. His mentor is known as The Giver (thus, the title of the novel), and trains Jonas to retain the memories that he has held for the past several decades. These memories are those that the rest of the community has been shielded from. Memories of disease, wars, hunger, and emotions haunt Jonas as The Giver transfers them to his mind. Throughout the novel, Jonas starts to realize the meanings of the past and how they shaped the society in which he lived.  

Of all the books that I've read, The Giver was the only novel that was able to incorporate philosophy that was full of rich messages. Jonas' society was based on the theory that pain is the ultimate evil and to eliminate evil, we must sacrifice our desires. However, Jonas is the only individual that was able to see through this common philosophy. He believed that choice and desires were part of life, and without them, you cannot have life. In a way, this novel depicts the importance of free will and the basic rights to be.  

I love how the author used such an ignorant character as Jonas himself to portray a meaningful message - that choices are not destructive. Our lives are not complete without good and bad experiences, and these experiences are shaped by our choices. Jonas' society is an example of what happens when we deprive ourselves and others of making our personal decisions. We act in inhumane ways as a result of a lack of free will. The goal of the society in The Giver was to create a form of Eden but instead created the exact opposite.  

I'd rate The Giver 8/10 stars mostly because I didn't like the ending too much, but it made me see things from a new perspective, which is something that I highly respect the author for. The ambiguity of the story was also something that made it incredibly interesting - it's honestly up to the readers to decide how they interpret the messages of the book.  

This novel might be disturbing for some readers, but it is deftly crafted. Although it has some unusual concepts and depicts graphic scenes from history, I would encourage anyone with emotional maturity to read this book! 

Checkout The Giver from the Newport Beach Public Library.

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