It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

its monday

I am continuing to read books from the The Top 100 Children’s Novels Poll (#1 – 100). The Giver, by Lois Lowry, won the Newbery Medal in 1994.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that quite a few of the books on the list are Newbery books.  This is going to become one of my favorites.  I really like stories that are set in alternate worlds.

the giver

The Giver takes place in a world that seems quite similar to ours, at least at first glance.  The children go to school, study and play.  They have parents.  The parents have jobs and take care of the children.  The elderly are well cared for.  They live in a community that is well-mannered and respectful.  There is order and efficiency.

Beyond that we soon discover how dystopian their society actually is.  Parents raise their children, a boy and a girl, but they don’t actually give birth to them. When children turn 12, their life’s work is dictated to them as part a very important ceremony.  It will determine whether you get to be a doctor, a birth-mother, or dig ditches for the rest of your life.  There is no freedom of choice.

When Jonas turns 12, the job assigned to him is the Receiver of Memories.  He does not understand the full consequence of his fate until he starts his training.  It is then that we discover that the Receiver has the “honor” and duty of bearing the burden of all of history including the  pain and suffering of war, of loneliness, of hunger.  But he also sees color for the first time.  He experiences and feels everything for the very first time from the soft coldness of snow to the intense pain of a sunburn.

In this world of safety and efficiency, there is no personal choice, no freedom, no love.  The sacrifice for this utopia is to strip everyone of the joy and pain of being human and inflict it on one individual, who then occasionally must remind the community of the past so as not to repeat other’s mistakes.

This is such a powerful book.  No wonder it is on my list!

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9 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

  1. I have had this on my mental “Want to Read” list for as long as I can remember so I just added it to my Goodreads account. I really loved dystopian themed books when I was in high school and then I kind of fell out of the trend, but this post makes me want to get back to reading them! I think it’s a great exercise to get us thinking about different worlds and societies and are a great little reminder for us to appreciate what our lives are like in comparison.

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  2. I read this years and years ago and really want to reread it. Or maybe just watch the movie version, LOL. There are companion novels as well. Many students in this class read The Giver and then want to read the companion novels too. I think there are 3?

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  3. Have you watched the movie? It’s pretty neat. I find that The Giver seems to be very similar to The Hunger Games and Divergent series… Do you?

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