The Giver by Lois Lowry

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“They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.”
This has been around a while, and I believe, is even required reading in some educational settings. Those who read it always seemed to have lots of good things to say about it and yet I can never find anybody who has even heard of it.

Jonas lives with his parents and in an isolated community at nonspecific some point in the future. The people within the community don’t know much about the ‘outside world’ or how life was before they came to live the way they do now, but thy are all quite content with life as they live it, as it’s safe, and they have no desire to question it.

When children turn 11 or 12 they attend this ceremony where they are assigned the job that they will work in the community as adults, once their training I complete. Most kids become ordinary things like mechanics, pilots, or even birth mothers, since the entire population are given hormone pills that rid them of their sexual urges and possibly their fertility, meaning that all future generations of children are conceived via artificial insemination and carried in the wombs of girls whose ‘job’ it is to do so before being adopted out to those couples who apply (though I don’t remember any kids being chosen as professional sperm donors, so I wonder we’re they sourced that.) But Jonas becomes none of these things, when he attends the ceremony, he is entrusted with the role of The Giver. There is only ever one Giver at a time, meaning the job comes up rarely, and whoever takes this responsibility is allowed to do what none other can, to learn of the history of their society and the world, to learn of how they came to be and prevent them from making the same awful mistakes of the past. But Jonas learns that while their ignorance of the horrors of history can be bliss, it also denies them all of the beauty, and empathy that comes with knowledge of the lives of others and the hope it can inspire. And while their society functions peacefully without war or even freedom, it is certainly not without it’s horrors to those who are able to recognize them.

I wish this had been require reading when I was at school and college. It sends such a clear but powerful message about questions what it really means to live and to be human and is so quick and simple to read I think more people would enjoy it than have read it. It’s always a shame when that happens, especially when there are so many filler books out there in the world that people binge on. The Giver is the first of four books, all of which I read consecutively in the space of two weeks or so. They’re really great, find yourself a copy and get reading!

4/5

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