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The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (1993)

by Lois Lowry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Giver Quartet (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
22,959107151 (4.19)512
  1. 222
    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (cflorente)
  2. 192
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (cflorente)
  3. 171
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (writecathy)
  4. 160
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (chrisharpe, afyfe)
    chrisharpe: I see I am in a minority but, although the idea behind the book is a good one, The Giver struck me as quite clumsy. A much more effective exploration of similar themes is Huxley's "Brave New World".
  5. 150
    The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (FFortuna)
    FFortuna: The Giver is much darker, but are similar in premise.
  6. 175
    Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (_Zoe_)
    _Zoe_: Another children's book that manages both to entertain and to make you think. These are two of my favourites.
  7. 100
    Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (KamTonnes)
    KamTonnes: Uglies and The Giver both portray societies that limit conflict by having very specific rules, roles, and expectations for everyone. Also, in both stories, the main characters slowly start to question the values of their respective communities.
  8. 90
    Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (jessicastatzer)
  9. 51
    Matched by Ally Condie (Trojanprincess)
    Trojanprincess: The two worlds seem similar in the way that every aspect of their livee are controlled.
  10. 40
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: Similar themes, We is a lot better written.
  11. 30
    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (mcenroeucsb)
  12. 30
    The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (jbarry)
    jbarry: futuristic take on biomedical ethics and mindbendingly complicated relationships
  13. 20
    This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (sturlington)
  14. 32
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (ubcsfs)
  15. 10
    The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean (infiniteletters)
  16. 10
    The Unnameables by Ellen Booraem (Nikkles)
  17. 00
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (rhondagrantham)
  18. 00
    Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: In these riveting, suspenseful and thought-provoking dystopian novels, 12-year-old boys learn from inspirational figures about the true nature of their repressive societies: Jonas, from the elderly Giver; Luke, from another hidden -- albeit, more privileged and knowledgeable -- "third child."… (more)
  19. 00
    The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman (foggidawn)
  20. 11
    The Story Box by Monica Hughes (infiniteletters)

(see all 25 recommendations)

1990s (9)
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» See also 512 mentions

English (1,061)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  English (Middle) (1)  All languages (1,069)
Showing 1-5 of 1061 (next | show all)
Rather Aldous Huxley flavor, Late Great Planet Earth. It is not my genre preference but.....when reading it soooo many kids and adults alike said things like oooo, I love that book. My grandson read it on his own to the amazement of his mother, not even as an assignment. ( )
  Glorydaze | Nov 23, 2015 |
When a what is suppose be thought of as a Utopian world gets a new giver things take a twist. The giver is the only person that can see thing different than anyone else such as color, the past, and love. Its a powerful story about a boy that chooses not to be the new giver and runs away to find the world he was forbidden.

Personal: I personally loved this book and had to read it in school and enjoyed every moment of it. Rereading this story just made me love it even more.

1. Have students write a review.
2. Which job they think they would be assigned and why.
3. Explain how they would feel to live in a Utopia.
  Amandacj | Nov 18, 2015 |
The Giver, by Lois Lowery.
The Giver is a book about Jona and how his world was perfect until he met the giver. Joan’s world had no war and everything was under control, they never experienced pain or fear. The people in his world had no reason to ever question anything because everything was always perfect. Every person was assigned a role in the community and never questioned why they had that role, it was the norm. When turned twelve his world as he knew it turned upside down when he was assigned to The Giver. The Giver alone holds the truth of the real world of true pain and pleasure of life. Once Jona learns the world’s secret, there’s no turning back for him.
Personal Reaction
This book is one of my favorite books when I was younger and in school. I remember reading this book in school and doing assignments over it. I instantly loved this book and have always remembered it still to this day. This book is amazing and keeps you reading.
Classroom extension
• I would ask my class to draw the scene of when Jona found out his world is a lie. What emotions that Jona would of felt and why. Describe.
• As a class, come up with a list of common emotions—anger, fear, joy, excitement, etc. Ask students to compile personal memories they associate with each emotion in a journal. Students might choose to include photos or drawings along with their written memories.
Have each student choose a memory to “transfer” to the class, paralleling how the Giver transfers memories to Jonas. Discuss as a group whether there are any memories they might choose to forget, if it meant they would also forgo the emotions associated with the event (shame or trauma, for example).
  jessica_vickery | Nov 18, 2015 |

[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]


Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a community based on “Sameness,” where everything is strictly controlled, from language and emotions to jobs and education. The people of the community live a safe life, never going without food or shelter or health care — but also going without the opportunity for personal choices and feelings and aspirations. Though most of them don’t realize the limitations because they have been conditioned all their lives to accept the community structure.

At twelve, children in the community are assigned to their life-long careers by the Elders and begin specialized training for their jobs. At his Ceremony, however, Jonas isn’t given an assignment — instead, the Chief Elder tells Jonas he’s been selected to be the next Receiver of Memory. Which is a literal title. The Receiver, through some unknown mechanism, can actually transfer and receive memories of many, many generations of humanity. The community has a Receiver so that the Elders can use his/her much wider perspective on the world — wisdom, if you will — if they come across situations they don’t know how to handle on their own.

Jonas begins his training with the current Receiver, who becomes the Giver, and learns very quickly about the limitations of the community. The things they have had stripped from them: colors (they see in black and white), true emotions (theirs are shallow at best), and the ability to really experience all that life has to offer. Jonas doesn’t quite understand why people would choose to give all those things up — until the Giver shows him the dark side of human history. War. Pain. Sadness. Loss. Grief.

It was these things that caused the last selected Receiver, a girl named Rosemary, to choose “Release” instead of fulfilling her duty.

And it is a hard lesson for Jonas to learn. Mostly because there is no clear-cut answer. He isn’t sure if sacrificing all the good things in life was really worth eliminating all those awful things, and the only answer the Giver can provide is “it’s what the people chose.”

Until Jonas discovers something about his community that puts him firmly one side of the issue: that regardless of what the people chose, or why, their way of life is NOT right.

What he discovers is that “Release,” which has always been billed as “Release to Elsewhere,” a process where people leave the community and go somewhere else…is actually death. The community doesn’t send anybody anywhere. Old people are euthanized. One identical twin out of a set is euthanized. And babies who don’t “perform” properly are euthanized — because they have no value to the community.

Once Jonas realizes this, he takes a baby, Gabriel, who’s been staying with his family but is slated for Release, and flees the community. The community sends out search planes to find him, but he manages to stay hidden and escape from the community altogether. In the end, as he trudges through deep snow, he falls, half frozen, in front of a cabin, where he hears voices and music.

The ending is left up to some interpretation, but Jonas does survive.

Cue companion novel.


My Take

I’m not really sure how much I can say about this children’s classic that people haven’t already heard. Obviously, it’s a pretty clear origin point for many, many later dystopian stories, and its themes are fairly similar to much of today’s dystopian fare. Jonas is a young, impressionable, and hopeful protagonist who quickly grows disillusioned with his society when some ugly truths come to light. The social structure consists of the familiar few, older authority figures who control people through constant, 1984-style observation and rigorous, lifelong conditioning.

There’s nothing much in this book that would surprise any reader today, given how popular dystopian has become in the last few years. But I can see how it would have been fairly groundbreaking children’s literature way back in 1993 (when I was, believe it or not, one year old).

Really, I can’t complain about anything in this book, although I will admit I didn’t find it that spectacular. The writing style didn’t really grip me, the characters weren’t that interesting (although they weren’t too boring), and the plot was fairly simplistic despite the somewhat heavy-handed thematic overtones.

In other words, it was a children’s book through and through. Not something I usually pick up. Not something I would have picked up had it not been hailed as a classic.

There isn’t anything wrong with it, per say, given what is is: a didactic children’s story that teaches an important lesson about the nature of sacrifice and the human experience.

So I’m firmly on the middle ground with this one. It’s all right, but it’s not something I found particularly compelling or ingenious.


Is It Worth Reading?

Sure. It’s a very short book. So if you’d like to go back in time and read one of the models for today’s YA dystopian, go for it. You can’t really waste time with this one, even if you don’t like it in the end.



3/5 ( )
  ClaraCoulson | Nov 16, 2015 |
This book will make you think. ( )
  PleasantHome | Nov 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 1061 (next | show all)
Despite occasional logical lapses, "The Giver," a powerful and provocative novel, is sure to keep older children reading. And thinking.
added by Aerrin99 | editNew York Times, Karen Ray (Oct 31, 1993)

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lois Lowryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ibatoulline, BagramIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rifkin, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.
His mind reeled. Now, empowered to ask questions of utmost rudeness- and promised answers- he could, conceivably (though it was almost unimaginable), ask someone, some adult, his father perhaps: "Do you lie?" But he had no way of knowing if the answer he received were true.
We really have to protect people from wrong choices.
But everyone would be burdened and pained. They don't want that. And that's the real reason The Receiver is so vital to them, and so honored. They selected me-- and you--to lift that burden from themselves.
Jonas did not want to go back. He didn't want the memories, didn't want the honor, didn't want the wisdom, didn't want the pain. He wanted his childhood again, his scraped knees and ball games.
Sometimes I wish they'd ask for my wisdom more often-there are so many things I could tell them; things I wish they would change. But they don't want change. Life here is so orderly, so predictable-so painless. It's what they've chosen.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
This book is about Jonah who is trying to figure out what memories are since he is the receiver and the giver is giving them to him. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic world (I'm assuming). Jonah has to come to terms with release and the very culture that he exists in. There is a trilogy for this series, and I'm excited to read them. This book can be used for character, theme, and other story elements in a class.
Haiku summary
A black and white world

One boy holds the memories

Of colorful past


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440237688, Mass Market Paperback)

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:46 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

Lowry's unforgettable tale introduces 12-year-old Jonas, who is singled out by the Community to be trained by The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of true pain and pleasure. Now it's time for Jonas to receiver the truth.

» see all 13 descriptions

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