Author: Lois Lowry
The fact that this YA novel recently made it to the box office as a Hollywood hit speaks volumes to its relevance in today’s world. First published 21 years ago, The Giver made quite the stir and sparked debates nationwide for its controversial content. Read mostly by young adults, the novel begged its fresh readers to really think. The book’s themes challenge young readers to consider real issues like politics and culture. The content of the novel demanded critical analysis– its message applicable to the real world. Lois Lowry’s Newberry Medal was rightly deserved for this one.
The protagonist, Jonas, lives in a dystopian society where houses (“dwellings” as they’re referred to in the novel) all look the same, your career is chosen for you, and things like color (that’s right, everything is seen in black and white) and emotion do not exist. Actually, these normalcies of life are stripped from the community through the injection of daily drugs. Children don’t even know who their birth parents are. Elders govern each community and tell the members of said community that these changes have been made to keep the peace. They wish to promote a healthy, stress-free environment.
In theory, this concept would work except for one element- the human right of free will is eradicated. What’s worse, most people have no concept of free will. They’ve never experienced such a right. Jonas is given the job of “Receiver” and quickly learns that everything he’s learned and been exposed to is a lie (loss of innocence). But, you’ll have to read the book to find out what he does about that… or see the movie, if you must.
The issues the novel brings to the table like free will and government still pervade today’s society, making this novel just as relevant now as it was when first published. The story of innocence lost is age old, but this particular tale is deeply disturbing, which shakes the reader out of passivity. This page turning, conversation sparking novel is one I recommend to many, adult and young adult alike. Regardless of age, The Giver provides a powerful lesson within it’s pages.