“Now, seeing the newchild and its expression, he was reminded that the light eyes were not only a rarity but gave the one who had them a certain look–what was it? Depth, he decided, as if one were looking into the clear water of the river, down to the bottom, where things might lurk that hadn’t been discovered yet.”
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry
The Giver still is and probably always will be one of those books I was introduced to in elementary school that I will continually re-read every year and enjoy just as much, if not more, than the last time. Truly a classic for anyone of my generation, the book was a 1994 Newbery winner and features the story of a young boy singled out of his Utopian society to become the next Receiver of Memory, a prestigious position in the community, the one individual among them who can remember the long-since abolished feelings to pain, fear, joyfulness, and love. Such a brief assessment of the plot barely does it justice, though.
What always strikes me whenever I read The Giver is how utterly complete Lowry’s Community is, as well as how effective. Because, really, this Utopian future isn’t necessarily bad. Perhaps that’s just my Pinko Commie self talking, but there are several aspects of the Community that work quite well and it’s a long cry away from a Dis-topian society where everything is going awry and terribly. It’s not. That’s the brilliancy of the world Lowry has created in this book. It would actually be a great way for some people to live. Some, but not all, and it’s those wild cards that cause all of the trouble.
Once Jonas starts to receive the memories that have been eradicated for the benefit of society, things like war and family and love, we go with him through this journey of self-discovery and Lowry does such a completely incredible job of making us experience things as Jonas does. She does very well in letting us, who have experienced all these things, suddenly feel like we are witnessing them and learning about them for the very first time. I’m continually astounded by her ability to do this and I love taking Jonas’ journey to discovery every time I embark on it.
My one problem with the book, however, has always been the ending. We’ve spent so much time in this world, building it and creating it and imagining it, that the ending, every time, seems to happen too suddenly, too abruptly, and with and ending that is far too ambiguous to be fully satisfying for me. There is a certain satisfaction in it, but I’m still left with too many questions and wanting more. Thankfully, I suppose, I know I can always just go back and read it once more, or some of the “companion novels” Lowry has written in the same world as The Giver. Gathering Blue is the only one I’ve read, and that only once, but it was charming and in the same vein and entertaining.
If you haven’t read The Giver, I highly recommend it. It’s a children’s novel, so it’s a swift read, but it’s a wonderful commentary on the human condition and what makes life worth living.
Books Read: 43 out of 100.