Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Listening Library. 2001. ISBN 080726203X
Reader’s Annotation: Each December every twelve-year-old receives their life assignment decided by the Elders. Jonas is chosen as the next receiver and he slowly learns the painful task that lays ahead of him.
Plot Summary: In this world conformity is the way of life. Everything is literally in black and white with no one being able to actually perceive colors, people don’t choose their jobs, spouses or even whether or not they can have children. Jonas knows nothing else and doesn’t truly begin to question their way of life until he is chosen as the next receiver for the community. This means he holds the memories of hundreds of years of experiences like truly feeling sunshine, the horrors of war or just enjoying a snowy day. The more memories he gains the more he questions his way of life.
I found the narrator of this audiobook to be excellent and was totally drawn into the story. It’s hard to imagine a world in which literally everything appears without color. I know this is the life these people are used to living but it is so hard to imagine living a life in which you don’t really have real choices and life is pretty blah. Watching or rather hearing Jonas begin to experience things for the first time was amazing and the description of each event was beautifully done.
There are moments that will tear your heart out as you read about babies who are “released” from life because they were born a twin or cry too much and don’t have the proper disposition. It’s hard to fathom a world that appears so heartless and yet to them it’s a way of life.
I personally thought the ending of the book was a little ambiguous as to what happens but others have disagreed but I definitely suggest teens check this book out.
About the author
Lois was a military brat who lived all over the world. She was born in Hawaii but also lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Tokyo and Washington DC while growing up. She published her first book A Summer to Die in 1977.
The Giver was originally a trilogy but a fourth book will be added later in 2012 and is called Son.
Book talking idea
If your life were to lose color what things and colors would you miss most?
Ages 12 and up.
The society’s outlook on euthanasia and suicide has lead to this book being one of the most challenged books on the 90s.
I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read. If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights. This book has also won the Newbery Medal which is prominently noted on the jacket cover. If asked about this book I would warn there are issues contained within it that a parent may wish to discuss with their child after reading the book.
Why did I include this book?
With all the focus on dystopians recently I wanted to include something from the genre which is more of a classic and that the younger generation of teenagers may not be as familiar with.