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1,042 of 1,085 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2001
Jonas lives in a "perfect" world where war, disease, and suffering have all been eradicated. Everything is in order; everything is under control. The people have no worries or cares. The Community strives for "sameness," in which everyone and everything are the same and equal. To help the Community function as a cohesive unit, each member is assigned a position in society. When Jonas turns twelve, the Community selects him to be the new "Receiver of Memories." Only the "Giver" knows the truth and memories of the past, and now he must pass these memories on to Jonas.

The Giver is a wonderful book. Lois Lowry skillfully crafted an intriguing and profoundly thoughtful story. She subtly creates an uneasy feeling that something is wrong with this "perfect world." The Community's advisors intend to establish security within utopian society, but they really establish a stifling dystopia. To protect people from the risks of making poor or wrong decisions in life, the advisors plan and dictate the lives of the people. In effect, the citizens have no freedom of choice; they do not choose their job or even their spouse. Moreover, the advisors inhibit the people's ability to feel because they want to spare them from the hardships and pain of life. For instance, individuals must take a pill everyday, which suppresses passionate feelings. The citizens do not know or experience true emotions like love. One of the goals of the Community is to achieve "sameness" so that no one feels embarrassed or gets excluded for being different. However, this limits individuality and freedom of expression because everyone conforms to a certain desired image. Finally, to relieve the population of the horrors and devastation of the world and the past, the advisors isolate the Community from the rest of the world (also known as "Elsewhere) and give the burden of holding the memories of the past to a single member of society: the "Receiver." Therefore, the Community lives only in the present, and the people have a narrow perspective of life because they only know their community and way of life. They are naive; they do not gain knowledge or wisdom from the memories. While receiving the memories, Jonas learns a different and better way to live and realizes what he and the Community have been missing. He decides that something must be done to change the current conditions and enlighten his community.
Although it is a Newbery Award Winner, The Giver is a controversial book that has been challenged and even banned. After parents complained that the violent and sexual passages were inappropriate for children, the Bonita Unified School District in California temporarily banned the novel from classes. The Giver has been challenged in other school districts around the country for its "mature themes" of euthanasia, infanticide, and suicide. I do not agree with banning and challenging of this novel. It is a great book, and part of what makes it so great is the incorporation of these controversial issues. They force readers to wrestle with their own thoughts and figure out their stance on the issues. Good literature makes readers think. Banning this book takes away the freedom of speech, the freedom to read, and the freedom to learn and explore. The banning of The Giver is ironically similar to the actions of the Community that lead the Community to its suppressive and stifling state. A powerful story, The Giver keeps readers in suspense, touches them, and stays with them for a long time. I love this book, and I encourage everyone to read it.
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481 of 516 people found the following review helpful
Jonas, an Eleven when THE GIVER opens, lives in a Community where everything is meticulously ordered: houses look alike, people dress alike, each family unit includes a father and a mother (who can apply for one male and one female child). Children begin their volunteer hours when they are Eights, and the Committee of Elders assigns them their roles in the Community at the Ceremony of Twelves. Because the people have chosen Sameness, nothing in their Community is unexpected, inconvenient, or unusual. They have no hills, no color, no cold, no sunshine. Their feelings are only superficial; their memories encompass only one generation. Pain is relieved instantly by taking a pill. They have abdicated choices.
The Receiver of Memory holds the position of highest honor within the Community, serving as the repository for the memories and knowledge of generations. Whenever the Committee of Elders are faced with a new situation, they are able to seek the counsel and advice of the Receiver. They have the benefit of experience without having to bear its pain.
Because of his intelligence, integrity, courage, wisdom, and Capacity to See Beyond, Jonas is selected to be the next Receiver of Memory. The current Receiver, who has held the position for decades, then becomes the Giver.
Ms. Lowry paints a vivid picture of this Community. Referring to everyday concepts in a slightly unusual way helps to set that society apart from our own. Babies younger than one year are called "newchildren," for example; children of the same age are "groupmates"; the elderly, the unhealthy, or those who have broken the rules three times may be "released."
Why might parents or teachers consider THE GIVER inappropriate for their children? I can only speculate on this since I find the book profoundly original and commendable:
1. The setting being a community without freedom. It should be noted, however, that citizens relinquished their freedom years earlier in order to escape the accompanying chaos. They are perfectly satisfied with their arrangement and are not oppressed.
2. The family being depicted as a temporary sociological unit rather than a permanent socio-biological unit. Nevertheless, this family unit provides a very nurturing atmosphere.
3. References to "Stirrings" (sexual arousal). These occur only a few times in the book and are only vaguely described. Since Stirrings are forbidden in the Community, young people begin taking a preventative pill upon first experiencing them and continue taking it daily until they enter the House of the Old.
4. The idea of young people bathing the elderly of the opposite gender. This happens only once in the book. It is a gentle, caring, and (given the ages of the participants) asexual experience.
5. The concept of "release." This pervades the book, but its meaning remains uncertain until Chapter 19, when Jonas witnesses a release.
I would think that for many readers these concerns would be assuaged by Jonas, the young protagonist who, in the course of his instruction, recognizes the advantages of previous systems and selflessly tries to better his Community.
Although there are aspects of this Community that we may find unsettling, we must remember that Lowry is not advocating this system. She is, in fact, inviting us to consider whether our own society has any of the characteristics of the Community that disturb us:
Do we attempt to make our lives pain free?
Do we attempt to erase unpleasant memories?
Do we use euphemisms?
Do we use robotic phrases, as for apologies?
Do we have anything resembling the "House of the Old"?
Do we have a ritual that might be called a "Ceremony of Loss"?
Do we attempt Climate Control?
Do we avoid talking about ways in which we differ from each other?
In our own Society, without a designated Receiver of Memory, that responsibility -- with its inherent pain and exhilaration -- falls to each of us. Vital questions for us to consider are Which memories will we receive? Which will we give?
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271 of 318 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2000
In a community that is all the same lives Jonas, who discovers he is very different. Jonas is the main character in the book The Giver, my favorite book. I loved The Giver because the plot was very creative, the theme was magnificent, and the setting was vivid. I think you should read this book for many reasons. The theme of this book is clearly represented: freedom, the right to make your own choices, uniqueness, and individuality are worth dying for. In Jonas's community, a commitee selects one's job, war is unheard of, all people wear the same attire, and all are assigned spouses and families. When Jonas is given the special, wonder-filled occupation of becoming the Receiver of Memory, he finds that there is much more to life. Through his task of becoming the Receiver of Memory, he discovers the meaning of love, pain, frustration, color, and cold. That is when Jonas realizes how much more there really is. Life soon becomes overwhelmingly unbearable in his world of "sameness." He finds life isn't worth living without the qualities (often that we take for granted) he discovered. That is when Jonas goes on a dangerous journey to find a land that is different. The setting in this book made it quite a pleasure. Everything in the community was predictable and pre-planned. The housing units were all the same. There were designated spots for everything. The setting helped develop the plot and theme. The mysterious ending leaves one filled with curiousity and wonder. The book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry is guaranteed enjoyment, especially for someone who likes a good theme and plot that ties in with the setting. I loved the boook The Giver, and I truly believe that everybody should read it!
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2012
I downloaded this book onto my reader. Could hardly put it down; loved it. Until I came to the end. What? It just left you hanging, not knowing what the imagery was, not knowing whether Jonas was "there" or not. I looked it up online to make sure I hadn't had a hiccup when I downloaded and only got half the book. Nope. This book could have been great if the end was the middle. Very disappointing and dissatisfying.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2002
This book,as distrubing as it was, was an excellent sci-fi book that, though odd, makes us all see that there is not, on the Earth we know, a place where everything is perfect as we can not know true happines or pleasure without first expiriancing pain and suffering. Jonas makes me think more, though this is a reach, more about the freedom of choice, for in the Community, there is none. The book striked as a powerful reminder that there is not a better world than that the one we live in, for there would be no happieness if it were the same as the Community, and no feelings. Without feelings, we are not human, and the people in this book scared me that some day there really may be a place that comes around here or in some other life where there are no feelings, color, or, most importantly, love.
I also recommend, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and The Price of Immortality
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2011
While "The Giver" is a classic book, this edition of Lowry's work makes it even more valuable. The addendum includes Lowry's Newbery Award Acceptance speech, so that readers have insight into how and why she wrote the book. Additionally, there are short stories that connect with the ideas of "The Giver," a non-fiction piece about the role of the "Griot" in Senegal and two fabulous poems that connect thematically. Having this book will enhance the knowledge of any reader: teen, teacher, homeschooler. . .this is truly the kind of edition I would like to see for more books commonly taught to teens. As a former teacher, I feel that the more connections a book can make with other literature and other experiences, the more valuable and permanent it becomes to the student.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 1999
This book I read first in 5th grade, and I loved it. Then I read it again in 7th grade, understood more, and then finally the last time I read it was in 8th grade, 3 years ago, but I loved it. I try to read it about every three years because it is the kind of book that you'll love hte first time you read it, but the more you read it, the more you understand. This book is touching, and it makes one think about our own society and where our future might be. If taken seriously, this book is a work of art, written so both children and adults can enjoy it. Definitely I recommend this to anyone who wants to see a different point of view on where technology and the media might be leading us!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 1998
I have owned The Giver, a book by, Lois Lowry, since I won it in 8th grade (I'm in 11th now). People always tokd me it was good, but for some reason I never actaully read it until this year. I'm glad I did read it because it's fascinating. It was written for young adult readers (my sister read it in her 8th grade class), but I suggest it for people of all ages because it is entertaining and thought provoking. The book is set in a community where everyone goes through the same routines, and feels no emotions. The main character is a young, teenage boy. The boy is chosen to be the next Giver (you'll have to read the book to find out what that means) which is when the reader becomes more aware of the restrictive communtity that the boy lives in. The book has a fast paced plot, but is not a thriller. It isn't a mystery either, but the reader is given information bit by bit until they realize the dull, restrictive the boy used to lead. I think the book has an underlying commentary about the importance of history in a societym and the dangers of extreme comformity. It's an interesting, quick read for adults, and fast paced and entertaining enough for younger children. I think anyone who hasn't read this yet should definitely give it a try.
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81 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2000
This book is about a kid named Jonas, who lives in a controlled world, with no fear, no pain, or no war. You might think he lives in a perfect world, Right? Wrong! In the Community, there is no choices, colors, pleasure, weather,love, emotions, etc. You can not choose your job, spouse, or anything like that. In the "Ceremony of Twelve", 12 year olds are assigned a job in the Community. Jonas is singled out, and gets special training from The Giver. When Jonas becomes the "Receiver of Memory", The Giver gives him the memories of the far past; memories of pain, fear, war, pleasure, colors,and love. (This book takes place in the future) Jonas receives the truth.......
This book is VERY original in it's plot, and it is interesting to see the point of view in Jonas's controlled world. I like how Lois Lowry decribes the memories that The Giver gave to him. She also well describes the way Jonas is feeling. It is a very thought-provoking book, which really makes you ponder. The ending sort of leaves you hanging though. I have read this book 3 times, and every time you read it, you understand more of this remarkable book. It just never gets dull. I read it first when I was in 4th grade,(I'm a good reader) although I would recommend it to kids 11 and up. 5 STARS!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2010
"The Giver" is one of the most provocative and thoughtful books that has an intriguing story line as well. Right from the first sentences, readers meet Jonas, a 13 year old boy, who's thoughts and observations sound very natural and familiar, like somebody you already know and care for.

Page by page, a new world that is set in some distant future unfolds with its "dangerous simplicity". The wrong and right is not spelled out in the beginning of the book, so the reader has a chance to follow Jonas and to see everything and to decide for themselves. Jonas observations add up to questions, and he starts to see everything a bit differently, he starts to question himself if everything around him is exactly as it seems.

Further, the story flows into a beautiful climax - Jonas meets the Giver - a person who has an ability to "see beyond", the ability that Jonas himself has as well and was chosen to develop it further as Giver's student. The Giver "gives" Jonas all kind of feelings and memories that humanity has accumulated but denied to burden themselves with. Instead, it was up to one person to know all there is to know and to "shelter" everyone else from it. But Jonas knows too much now, and he decides to take action - something that no one have ever succeeded at in the community - he decides to flee in search of other, "real" way of living.

The book ends at even more provoking and intense note. But Jonas knows the truth now, and he is free to choose for himself. He is free to feel all there is to feel - excitement and pain equally...

Julia Shpak
Author of "Power of Plentiful Wisdom". Available on Amazon.
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