Dystopians are pervasive now, but back in 1994, when it won, I suspect this book was unique. And, I suspect The Giver was labeled "Utopian." I'm ashamed to say I've never read The Giver before. For some reason I read Gathering Blue when it came out, but never went back to read The Giver until now. I won the entire Giver Quartet so I was motivated to read it. And, aren't the new covers beautiful?
Jonas, the main character, lives in a community where no one has to worry about anything. All decisions are carefully made by the committee -- your occupation, your spouse, even your children -- are "given" to you by the Elders. You don't have to worry about choices.
Jonas is perfectly happy with this until, at the Ceremony where he becomes a Twelve and gets his occupation assignment, he is singled out and given a very special occupation. He's to be the Receiver of Memories. The current Receiver is very old and needs someone to take his place.
Receiving memories from the old Receiver (who Jonas calls The Giver) doesn't turn out to be as special as Jonas had hoped. It makes him unhappy and restless. Because he now realizes what he is missing, he wants to change things for everyone, but how?
Jonas makes a bold move to help change the way the community exists. It's dangerous, daring, and frightening.
The Giver is a relatively quick read that is powerful and moves quickly. It is interesting that we are introduced to this society so quickly that the reader really doesn't have time to think. We are almost lulled by the peace and tranquility and seemingly "perfect" existence of the people in this community. The reader only begins to realize right as Jonas does, how totally WRONG everything is. I think this pace is what makes The Giver very special. You really barely catch your breath from the first page to the last. And, the last page leaves many questions as well. Then, you close the book and start thinking....
I'm sure I'm not the first to categorize The Giver as a "must read," but I will jump on that bandwagon. It only takes a few hours, and it's really captivating. Enjoy!
Published by Houghton Mifflin reissue Sept. 25, 2012. Originally published 1993.
Copy won from The Teen Librarian's Toolbox
225 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)
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