Mar 16, 2011

#TheList, No. 670: The Giver

I was at a party on Saturday and one of my friends asked me "what's your favorite dystopian novel?"  Yes, I have friends who begin conversations in such a manner.  You should be so lucky. 

I had actually finished rereading The Giver that morning.  I've always considered that to be my favorite dystopian, but having only read it once way back in the 5th grade, it was possible that my favorable memories of Jonas and Gabriel would be completely wrong.  But no, it was still just as amazing as it was in Mr. Brewster's class.  Honestly, in that class we read the BEST books.  I'm pretty sure all but one are on the 1001 books list and I'm super pumped about revisiting them. 

I've heard some complaints about the religious undertones of The Giver, but honestly you can stretch a religious connection to just about anything.  I'm not denying that it's in there (the names are pretty obvious), but I think there's a lot more to the book than just a religious connection. 

What I Absolutely Love About The Giver:

1.  Jonas' realization that there's so much more than "Sameness" and his struggle to determine if having choices would be a positive or a negative is powerful.  Not only does it reflect how children his age start to think independently, but it progresses at a seemingly natural pace.  He doesn't suddenly realize how messed up his society is; it's a gradual understanding.
2.  The sled as a symbol of both pleasure and pain is so perfectly executed (I think).  The sled makes him happy when he receives his first memory, but when he receives the memory of breaking a bone it brings him pain.  And yet, at the end when he actually sleds down a hill it's nothing short of joyous, so the potential pain makes it worthwhile.

3.  There is just enough drama for the novel.  There's nothing unnecessary throughout the novel, unlike some books today that feel the need to weigh down the pages with silly love triangles in hopes of taking the Twilight route and selling some Team Insert Name Here t-shirts (I'm looking at you, The Hunger Games).
4.  Lois Lowry rocks.  That's not actually specific to The Giver...her Anastasia Krupnik series got me through some tough times as a kid. 

5.  It makes me think about the movie Pleasantville.  The way Toby Maguire's character teaches the sitcom people about the world outside Pleasantville is what I imagine Jonas' character doing when he reaches "Elsewhere."  Granted, Elsewhere is already a world with color and already possesses the memories he received from the Giver, but I imagine he'll have to teach someone...most likely Gabriel.  Or they might have  just died.  That's the fun thing about ambiguous endings: anything's possible.


  1. What hard times did you have as a kid? Me kicking you out of bed and telling you your Christmas presents?

  2. Precisely. Also, all the times you wouldn't let us watch tv because you needed to watch "The Best of Elmo" one more time. Tough stuff.

  3. Have you read its companions? I really liked Gathering Blue too, though I wasn't as big a fan of The Messenger.

  4. I haven't read them yet, but I just checked out Gathering Blue! It's coming up on my read next list

  5. I loved The Giver, and I didn't read it until sophomore year at BC... :D