by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry's 1993 Newberry Award winning book has become a modern classic for reading with young adults. It is a dystopian novel about a futuristic society run by sameness. Everyone dresses the same, has the same birthday, lives in family units that are the same, etc. At first this dystopia appears to be a utopia -- the Pleasantville-like society is pain-free, crime-free, and everyone has everything they need. However, this type of utopia comes with a price. Would you give up music, love, and emotions to be safe and orderly?
I read this book in the sixth grade, and I clearly remember thinking that our society was eerily similar to the community in the book. We go to school, we go to college, we get a job, we pay our taxes. We do what we are supposed to do. I thought this story was a cautionary tale about becoming drones in world and failing to recognize the beauty in the world, the good things in life.
I read this book in ninth grade and I remember fixating on the government in the story. This society is the result of socialism to the extreme. Socialism sounds great in theory, but is that how people are really supposed to live? How can one be an individual in such a society, and is that even necessary? I wanted to know how the government managed to take so much control over these people, and what had gone so bad in the world to make that necessary.
Now, as an adult, I am looking at this book in a different way. A fellow teacher just read the book and was inspired by it. She brought it back and felt that students need to read it. It's a book about standing up for what you know is right. The book makes readers wonder if they are a Jonas, challenging the status quo and looking for truth, or if they are more like the other members of the community. I had always seen the book as more political, but the conversations we've had about the novel recently have helped me see that the themes in the novel are applicable in so many situations.
If you've never read The Giver, I highly recommend the book as a must-read. If you have read it before, no matter how many times, I also recommend that you pick it up and read it again. What does it say to you at this point in your life? We've got a whole class set in stock, so check it out today @ your library.