Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel
What can I possibly say about Lois Lowry's The Giver that hasn't already been said about this award-winning novel? Probably not much. Many a more astute reviewer has rattled on about it in the past decades. Nonetheless, I've set out to tell you about most of the books I read, so I'm going to do that now in the knowledge that you should just stop reading this and go read The Giver. Seriously.
I was born in the 80s and had a developed love of literature by the 90s. Lois Lowry was one of the first writers to hit me square in the feels. She did it with Number the Stars–a kiddo-friendly look at the horrors of the Holocaust. Because I loved that book so much as a kid, I determined to read The Giver long ago, but have only just got around to it. I shouldn't have waited.
They say there are no original ideas left, but I think there are a few that come close enough or are executed so well that it hardly matters. The Giver is a bit of both. For some reason, I was nostalgic for A Wrinkle in Time and 1984 when I read it. Neither had parallel stories, but a similar feel definitely permeated all three (only for a brief section in the case of A Wrinkle in Time). That nostalgic feeling was there, but the story was also so individual that I devoured it.
In a world filled with Sameness, a young man named Jonas is chosen to be the only one among his people with memories of suffering and joy. He is to receive all of the memories of their history by a man he comes to know as The Giver. The Giver labors under the weight of these memories and, while sympathetic with Jonas, is eager to relieve his pain. However, as Jonas learns the truth about his life, he and The Giver must decide if it's time to release their burden.
The Giver is a short, simple read with complex, thought-provoking themes. Yes, it is categorized as children's literature. It's not. It is a book that people of most age groups can appreciate that happens to be at an easy reading comprehension level. This novel moved me at the age of 33. I've been thinking about it since I completed it last night and will surely remember it fondly for the rest of my life.