Genre: dystopian YA
Length: 179 pages
Setting: an unnamed Community, sometime in the future
Interest: It’s recommended many places as a great story for kids. Mr. Curiosity decided it would make a good bedtime story.
Summary: Jonas is almost a Twelve, but he has no idea what job he’ll be assigned at the yearly Ceremony. He’s chosen to become the Receiver of Memory, a unique job in the Community. The Giver is the holder of all the memories of the world Before, when choice and differences and bad things were possible. As Jonas receives memories from the Giver, he realizes how limited life in his Community is. He and the Giver devise a plan where Jonas will leave the Community and head Elsewhere. This should result in all his newly-transferred memories being released back to the people. The plan is accelerated when Jonas learns the newchild his family has been raising is scheduled for release.
Final thoughts: I can totally see why this book is recommended so often and won the Newbery Medal. It really made you think about how life was different for Jonas and if those changes were good. I liked how Lowry kept sneaking in details that made Jonas’ world seem more and more alien (assigned families, assigned jobs, Precision of Language, Release if you were old or didn’t fit in, sharing of feelings, etc.). Mr. Curiosity was shocked when he discovered they had given up the ability to see color to improve their sameness. The worst of it was, the people had no idea what they were missing. There were so many rules to follow, and if you couldn’t follow them, you were Released (which Jonas discovered did not mean going to another Community. It meant you were killed). And the ending was so ambiguous – did he save Jonas or did they both die of exposure in the mountains? I think he was hallucinating at the end, but it’s not clear so a kid can think they were saved.
The book worked very well as a read aloud. The chapters were the perfect length for a single night of reading, and there weren’t too many voices that I had to do. Each night, we were left wanting to read more, which is good incentive to get ready for bed in time the next night.
Awards won: Newbery Award in 1994
Title comes from: The Giver’s job
Reading challenges fulfilled: 48/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and 10/12 in my Award Winning Challenge
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