“It’s the choosing that’s important, isn’t it?”
― Lois Lowry,
Lois Lowry’s 1994 Newbery Medal–winning tale has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on Jonas who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.
I start this book with my students the week we get back from Spring Break. I had never read it until now. I moved around quite a bit when I was a kid so I missed a lot of required reading. I had never read The Giver, Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. But now I can cross The Giver off my list!
I remember that my friends had read it in the 8th grade. My husband and my best friend really enjoyed it. And I think, had I read it in the 8th grade, I would have enjoyed it more. I think I was a little disenchanted by it because I have read many other Utopian/Dystopian novels. My husband said he loved how the main character and Giver were against the government and the idea of them fighting for what they believed in, and that it was the first book he had ever read of this genre.
I on the other hand have read The Hunger Games, Divergent, Orleans, Legend, etc. So it wasn’t such a mind blowing experience for me. I thought it ended too quickly and that there wasn’t enough explanation for the background.
Also, I kn0w I’m a weirdo because of this but I do not enjoy books that have an ending open for interpretation. I just want to know how it ends! The ending of this book drove me crazy. Did Jonas and Gabriel die from the elements of the outside world? Did they find another community beyond theirs? Did they just keep on walking and slip into the memory of Christmas because it was the only thing that could keep them moving forward?
Don’t get me wrong, I think this will be a very teachable book. I think endings like that will create good discussion in the classroom among students. I think it helps them with higher order thinking. You have to decide which ending you most agree with. But I personally would not call this an amazing book. I gave it 2/5 stars on Goodreads purely on the fact that I did not enjoy it.
It made me sad after I read it. The whole thing was depressing and morose. There was no trust, no love, no life, and no happiness. I am happy the Giver found a companion but the circumstances were awful. And I know the general public was desensitized to all of the wrong doing but I could not get past what his father did. What an awful human.
I think the discussions that will come from this book will be good for my kids though. Except the whole “Stirrings” bit. I can’t wait to have that conversation with my hormonal 12 and 13 year olds -________- I am excited about the conversations about the ending, about the differences in Utopian/Dystopian societies, honor vs. power, duty, and friendship/love vs never experiencing pain.
I would have enjoyed this book a little bit more if the ending hadn’t been so rushed. You never even know what happened with the Giver. And the actual ending was so different than the plan Jonas and the Giver had actually plotted out because he decided to save Gabe in the end. I just wish it would have shown more of what reaction his parents, friends, and the Giver had to the turn of events. Was the Giver proud of Jonas for saving Gabe? Or angry for risking their entire plan?