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The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (original 1993; edition 2002)

by Lois Lowry

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22,243102756 (4.2)473
"The Giver" takes place sometime in the future and about a young boy's life in his "community." Jonas, the young boy, after receiving his assignment, began to rebel against his community's lifestyle and was forced to make a choice of no return. This is an awesome book! ( )
  JTNguyen | Apr 25, 2012 |
English (1,016)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  English (Middle) (1)  All languages (1,024)
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Read a review of the audio version of this 1994 Newbery Medalist here: http://rdg301library.blogspot.com/2013/03/1994-newbery-medalist.html.
  rdg301library | May 24, 2015 |
A dystopian community with a cover up as a utopian society. How perfect! Everything seems ideal. People are safe, everyone gets along, no one is sick, homeless, etc and everyone has the perfect job that suits their personalities. In many aspects, it sounds ideal. Yet it is all just facade for the most part.

As Jonas moves on to his twelfth year is is given the title Receiver Of Memory for his community. but with this new title comes some unexpected rules and conditions. He is to learn there is so much more to life that what he has been taught.

This book is a fast read. not action-wise but in short, easy chapters that leave you needing to know more. This book quickly set me up with wondering many questions. And for each one that is answered right away, several new ones came up. The community is is a part is of actually quite disturbing on many levels. Especially the emotional disconnect. When Jonas asks his parents if they loved him, their answer left me staggered!

While things are answered in a way that we can fully understand what is going on, the how and why is left vague enough that one must use their imagination. Especially at the end.

This was my first book by Lois Lowry, but it won't be the last. I am now eager to read the next book in the series very soon! if you are looking for something to get you thinking about life, this will do it. Easy enough for middle graders for the basic story but with some hidden depth for the more mature readers as well. A quick read at under 200 pages. ( )
  jljaina | May 16, 2015 |
The Giver is dystopian novel written by Lois Lowry at the beginning of the 1990s. Set in a 'community' in the future, the protagonist Jonas slowly experiences the community's flaws but also its advantages as he grows up to get assigned a very honorable position in the community. To get a better grasp of the setting it is essential to know what the community that Jonas lives in is like. Jonas grows up in a society that cherishes sameness and tries to do away with individualism and differences between people. That is why there are very strict rules in order to protect the inhabitants of the community from anything bad that could happen. Everything follows a pattern and is very structured and organized. Nothing is left to chance. Jobs in the community are assigned to the people, spouses are given to you by the leaders of the community after a long time of consideration. The same goes for children. You have to apply first and then you are given a child if you and your partner are deemed fit. Of course, it is hard to have people living happily in such a community and that is why all inconvenient or impractical memories from the past are taken away from the citizens only to be saved in the memory of one person in the community: the Receiver of Memories.

As one might guess, Jonas is assigned to become the community's next Receiver of Memory. But before he can take on this important assignment he has to be trained by the old Receiver of Memory or the Giver, who gives the novel its title. The training is hard for Jonas because he learns about concepts he has never heard of before as they have been taken away from the community and only remain alive in old memories. Such concepts include love, pain and war but also simpler things such as sunshine, snow and colors. Together with the Giver, Jonas decides that the community should also know about some of those memories in order to be able to feel love, see colors and hence be able to enjoy the world more. This is when Jonas makes a plan to give back memories to the community. But what will the consequences be?

One can read The Giver with regard to many aspects. Apart from the construction of a dystopian society I found the use of language to be one of the most important aspects in the novel. The diction that is prevalent in the community contributes to the overall effect of emphasizing function over feeling and pragmatism over personality. Words like "birthmother", "newchild" or "family unit" and the fact that you "acquire a child" rid the daily life of all possible emotions and stress the function of everyone in the community. The sole purpose of some women is to be a "birthmother", that is to give birth. The "newchild", however, is taken away from its mother and given to a "Nurturer" (mind the capitalization, focus on function again). Getting attached is almost not possible so that the feeling of love is simply irrelevant and nonexistent in the community.

The Giver is a YA novel that I read with my students in high school and it led to some very heated discussions about what is important in life and what is not. Also, the notion of 'society' and what makes a society function but also worth living in was debated at length. To my mind, a novel that encourages critical thinking is always worth reading. Personally, I think The Giver is a fairly good novel with a somewhat disappointing and sudden ending. 3.5 stars. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | May 16, 2015 |
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
  elindseyziegler | May 14, 2015 |
I read The Giver for the first time about 10 years ago, I really liked it then as a pre-teen and still enjoyed it today. Its a quick read and very well written. I felt the author did a good job at setting the background and building up, I would of liked more information between the time Jonas is upset at his community's lifestyle and their plan on how to change it. I think its relatable in a way that everyone is kind of in a innocent bubble as a child then as you learn more about the world you realize shit is unfair, this was just a more extreme version. ( )
  GrlIntrrptdRdng | May 14, 2015 |
An interesting idea, but with significant plot holes. It does well as a short story, but is not fully baked as a novel. ( )
  bdtrump | May 9, 2015 |
The Giver was a wonderful book. I really liked the plot of the book. I also really liked the characters of the story. Each characters has traits relevant to people in today’s society. For example, Asher, the main character’s best friend, would be considered the class clown. He likes to have fun and easy going. The language the author used was also very powerful in this story. For example, there were never any type of arguing or foul language. As a book set in a utopian society the future, they are able to erase what they don’t want the citizens of their community to know. They live in what is called “Sameness”. Sameness has no color and no emotions. You don’t feel happy or sad or hurt. You can share how your day was and how something made you feel. I think the big idea was Jonas’s ability to accept being different and the decisions he made surrounding being different. ( )
  AliciaTrotman | May 8, 2015 |
Summary: The dystopian society of 'the community' is a prime example of people who have no free will, but are ignorant of the fact. They actually embrace that important decisions like career, spouse, and child placement are made by a committee. There is only sameness and people do not know love, color, or music. As the story develops and Jonas begins his career path, it becomes evident that these people have lost much more than choice, they have no memory of life before community. This responsibility falls to one select member of the community who must bear that pain alone. When Jonas realizes the true nature of 'ceremonial release' he makes a decision, his own, to leave and seek something new.

Personal Reaction: This book still captures my full attention and becomes a non-stop read. Now that I'm older I see that there are depth flaws in the plot that I didn't notice as a child. The book still provides attention grabbing narrative that will help younger readers develop a passion for reading.

Classroom Extension: Discuss life in the book and life in our own society. Can they see pros and cons to both? Which society would they rather be a part of? Is the society in this book as perfect as it seems?
  KaitlynBlevins | May 6, 2015 |
The Giver is a very eye-opening book. It takes place in a so-called perfect world where the characters do not have to make decisions or anything. The characters do not have birthdays and are given a job to them. It is strange because it is very different from the world we are used to. For example, the characters in the book do not see color, which I thought, was rather strange. The characters do not have any memories, but one character is given the ability to receive these memories for information in future decisions. Overall, the writing was descriptive and detailed. However, I did not like the book because the ending was open to interpretation. Another reason I disliked this book was because this world seemed so imperfect and odd. It did not seem realistic at all and I did not enjoy it. The main message in this book is that we should be happy with what we have even if things are difficult sometimes. We should also be grateful for what we have because things could be worse. I think that is an important message because I often wish for better things or take what I have for granted. After reading this book, I have been more aware of what I have and how my life could be entirely different if I was a character in this book. In general, I thought this was an okay book. ( )
  AnneJohnson | May 4, 2015 |
I really liked this book. Firstly I really loved the world that everyone lived in. I think a controlled environment like theirs is so interesting. For example, the elders were the only ones who were allowed to make choices for everyone. No one had their own say in what they wanted to do or say. Something that was weird to me was that you had to take a pill whenever you caught sexual feelings because those were not allowed. Also, another example of things that were weird to me in this story was you had to apologize after doing anything "bad" such as breaking curfew. Although I found all of this weird and strange, it really made me think, "what if life was really like this?" and I think that that is another great thing about this book --it really makes you think and compare the life in the book to our current society.

The big message of this book is to be appreciative for all that you have and are blessed with because things could be a lot worse. We are blessed with the ability to make our own decisions even though we complain about having to make them regularly. I would rather have to make difficult decisions than to have someone decide them for me. ( )
  LexaGoldbeck | May 4, 2015 |
I disliked this book a lot, I felt it was very dry and boring. I did however like the message that even being the "all-knowing" receiver, everything doesn't happen the way they wanted too. The book follows Jonas and Jonas' family. We also learn about the community as a whole. Family units must apply for children, spouses do not get to choose one another but, instead, are matched, and grandparents do not exist. Everything about this story was weird to me. ( )
  sceres1 | May 4, 2015 |
Life is much different than what we live now and everyone must live according to strict rules and guidelines. At the age of eleven everyone is given jobs they must do for the rest of their lives and Jonas receives a very prestigious one called the receiver. To do his job Jonas must collect all the memories from the past that the giver possess, good, bad, scary, everything. Jonas must keep these memories only to himself and not share them with anyone, although in the end he shares them.

Teaching Ideas: class activity where everyone must live as they did in the book. Debate on that lifestyle versus ours today
  aehunter | May 4, 2015 |
I really liked this book. The first reason I liked this book was because of the made up world the author created. For example, in this world no one had choices. The elders of the community made the choices for all the citizens. I found this very interesting because of how controlled their society is. Another example in this made up world were the rules that the citizens had to follow, such as apologizing after misbehaving, curfew, and taking pills to remove sexual feelings. The second reason I liked this book was because of the main character Jonas’ emotions. For example, when Jonas found out that during releases his father kills the babies he could not control his emotions. “He killed it! My father killed it!” Jonas was so upset that his father lied to him. “Once he had yearned for choice. Then, when he had a choice, he had made the wrong one: the choice to leave. And now he was starving.” Jonas hated the thought of having choices made for him but after he left he realized why choices were made for the citizens. The big message of this story is that we should be thankful that we make choices on our own and live our lives our way. ( )
  KinderelHodgson | May 4, 2015 |
I read all four books in The Giver Quartet in succession in about a week. This is definitely one to make you think about the government, religious, politics, emotions and life in any society. I didn't think I was going to enjoy it as I had to get it out of Juvenile section of the library, but boy was I wrong! Definitely a series I will read with my kids one day and I would recommend it for everyone. Messenger was my favorite in the series, but I think they are all must reads! ( )
  katherineemilysmith | May 4, 2015 |
This book was very interesting when I re-read it because I had a whole new perception. Jonas is given a specific job that could technically change society. He is given these memories to hold on to that reminisce on the past. The present is a depressing atmosphere . I would give this book to a class of 7th graders because I feel as though they would be able to understand the complexity of this book. ( )
  mbabst | May 3, 2015 |
I was and still am not . I found it incredibly depressing, but I can see how it could be used in a secondary classroom. The concepts and realities of everyone being given their occupations and lives can mirror the effects of communism. Although this book has its benefits, I would use a different book if I were teaching. There is definitely a reason I have chosen elementary rather than secondary. ( )
  kitbraddick | Apr 30, 2015 |
Summary: Society has changed drastically and people are given specific jobs and shielded from many things that once made people very happy. The Giver is an important job given to a boy name Jonas, he takes all of the memories from the past and is supposed to hold onto them and not give them to anyone. He decides to show people and chaos ensues.

Personal connection: I read this book in middle school and found it to be very interesting. It was the first time I hear about utopias.

Class use: Get students into groups and have them make their own utopia; talk about what jobs they would have, type of government and legislature. ( )
  allisonpollack | Apr 30, 2015 |
Summary: In this story, a society exists that has no war, conflict, or implications. Everyone gets along in the living society, but nobody living in the society has the freedom of choice. At the age of twelve, they are assigned a job based on the hobbies they are best at. Babies grow up one year after being born in a secluded area of the city until they are ready to take on their jobs and contribute to society, but the adults are all assigned two children each. Jonah, the main character in the book, is responsible for keeping all the memories of the society, of which he receives from the Giver. the memories are good and bad, not all good. But the memories that are good, are worth the pain Jonah feels from the bad memories he must experience. During the book, he realizes the society in which he lives is bland and longs to find more to life because of the fragments of memories he gets in the book.

Personal reflection: I enjoyed this book a lot more than the movie and I saw the movie before reading the book. I like the plot of the book and the symbolic representation of memories. I also like the idea of society as something that a group of people represent together in a controlled way. I think this book would help children uncover the fundamentals of the society in which we live today and find it interesting to explore how things would be if we lived in a society like the one in The Giver.

Class use: I would have students independently read this book and write a one page reflection of what society represents to them. I would also include this book on a text set on society and even memories. I would also ask students to discuss as a class what the underlying themes of the book were and how they have significance in our lives today.
  MelissaKlatt | Apr 29, 2015 |
The Giver was a very interesting book that gives a brand new perspective on how the world could be. One thing I liked about the story was the plot itself. It was very unique to have a society in which people have everything decided for them including their job and their parents. I could not imagine living in such a refined society, where I would be so limited. It is also hard to imagine being the only person in my society in control of having all of the bad memories that people have had. That would be a lot of pressure and also painful to see all of those bad memories, for example when Jonas finds out what his father is doing by “releasing” a newborn child. That would be a very damaging thing for me as it was for Jonas because it changes everything you have ever believed in life. I could sometimes see myself in Jonas because I also would want to save Gabe and escape this place, where everyone tries to be the same and has no power to choose what they want in life. The main message of the story is to show what it would be like to live in a society without choice or emotions. In this society everything was chosen and people were basically made into emotionless robots but Jonas saw the other part of society through memories. He could see what life was really like and how people actually live. This book makes me appreciate the choices I have in life, like what job I want to pursue and who I want in my life. ( )
  MManzo2 | Apr 28, 2015 |
I really liked this book for a few reasons. I generally hate science fiction books, but this one had a strong message that I liked which was the importance of memory, and that without memory, a person cannot have pain or pleasure, for they would not have recalled experiencing it. Another reason why I liked this book was because it had a unique plot. The story revolved around a utopia, in which everything appeared “perfect,” and there was no room for chaos because everything in life was in order and everyone lived the same life, under the same home, with the same rules. This plot certainly kept me interested and engaged the entire time. Lastly, I enjoyed that the main character, Jonas, was very well-developed. He was just a young boy who was given the opportunity to collect The Giver’s memories, meaning he could experience colors, holidays, weather, and animals, which no one else could do. Therefore, I liked that while Jonas was experiencing all of these things, I felt like I was too because every aspect of his life was well-developed. ( )
  akoches | Apr 27, 2015 |
I absolutely loved this story because of its plot and use of language. “The Giver” is a story about a boy named Jonas who lives in a world that we would consider to be a utopia. In this world people are assigned everything throughout their life. For example, a spouse is given to you, as well as a job. Everyone lives in the same type of home, and manages the same sort of lifestyle. Each year all the children grow up the same way. For instance, at age nine all children are able to get bicycles well as wear a front-buttoned jacket, to show independence. Even people’s names were assigned to them, basically in this world no one had a choice, but they did not know anything otherwise. When Jonas reached age twelve he was assigned the job as a receiver. This job was considered to be very high profiled, and no one knew much about it. Jonas learned that his new job required receiving memories from the giver, an old man who had a brain full of real life memories. It was Jonas’s job to take these memories from the giver, but to never tell anyone about them. The giver’s memories included recollections of holidays, colors, weather, animals; everything that was unknown to Jonas’s world. After learning about how horrible his town’s system was, Jonas decided to run away and never look back. I really enjoyed the plot because each chapter was like a cliffhanger, and I found myself wanting to keep on reading. Also, the plot was engaging and the overall story line kept me interested in wanting to find out the ending of the book. I liked the use of language in the story because it was very descriptive and I felt as though I could picture Jonas’s world. For example the text states, “Mirrors were rare in the community…Jonas had simply never bothered to look at himself…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…he decided; as if one were looking into the clear water of the river, down to the bottom, where things might lurk which hadn’t been discovered yet. He felt self-conscious, realizing that he, too, had that look.” I love how the authors’ writing is so powerful and imaginable. Just reading that portion of the text, made me feel Jonas’s pain and wonder. I could picture him looking at the newchild and thinking about his own physical appearance.
The main idea of this book is to describe a world that lacks freedom and reality. It was so interesting to read about this fictional world, and what life was like without choices or options. The story made me feel thankful for the life that I have, and that I am in control of my own life. The characters in the book have their lives written out for them, and they have no say or power in regarding themselves. ( )
  ecahan1 | Apr 26, 2015 |
While I'm a number of decades from being a young adult (and this is a young adult book), I believe The Giver will stick with me for a long time. Behind the story is an idea I have to admit I had previously given little thought: while we may dream of utopias, they inevitably cannot be as utopian as we'd like. The Community portrayed in The Giver, while idyllic in many ways, cannot survive without substantial control being exercised. When you look at the cost wrought by that control, is life drained of such purpose and enjoyment as to be worth it? ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
I loved this book! I am typically not one to read a futuristic book, but this story grabbed and held onto my attention for all 179 pages. One reason why I liked this book is because it is full of descriptive language that truly allows the reader to visualize each scene despite the lack of pictures. One example of this descriptive language takes place on page 175. Lois Lowry writes, "But now the rapidly deepening snow obscured the narrow road and made the ride impossible. His front wheel moved forward imperceptibly as he pushed on the pedals with his numb, exhausted legs. But the bicycle stopped. It would not move." This descriptive language keeps the readers hanging onto each word to build upon their mental image and create an even more clear picture of what is happening. This descriptive language is used throughout the book to keep a continuous visual streaming in the reader's mind. Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed is the power that it has to make the readers think. Since the society that the story takes place in is so different from our present day society, readers must think about how they would feel in that situation. Seeing that so many of us complain about the amount of serious decisions we are faced with in life, this story shows us what it could be like if our decisions were taken from us. Would I like it if my job was decided for me? Would I like it if the number of children I would have was decided for me? Would I like it if color did not exist and we all looked the same? This book calls for a great deal of thinking and reflection on the reader's part, allowing them to become immersed in the text and their thoughts.

The big idea of the book is to show the fine line between freedom and security. ( )
  CarrieHardesty | Apr 25, 2015 |
I found the set-up and the basic concept interesting. The Giver's deceptively simplistic language reveals a rather horrifying dystopian world. Based on Plato's Republic, it puts more emphasis on the dark side of Plato’s vision rather than the obligations of the Philosopher Kings to fix things. Certainly well-written, I found the book a little too preachy and simplistic. ( )
  crunchymunchkin | Apr 22, 2015 |
I love this book. It's about an attempt to make a perfect world after mass wars. But we all know that there is no such thing as PERFECT. The main character Jonas decides to think for himself after being named as the successor for the keeper of memories. The things that are transferred to his mind help to set in motion a series of events that will change everyone's lives. But will it be for the better? This is a good example of the butterfly effect. ( )
  kat32969 | Apr 20, 2015 |
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