Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Giver...random thoughts


(This is also my first book down in the Decades '08 Challenge.)

The Giver by Lois Lowry...what a great little book. Given Lois Lowry's reputation and all the raves I've heard about this book, I admit I had pretty high expectations. And I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed this little book immensely.

One of the main reasons I picked this one up was to use it for homeschooling. And I have to admit that I think knowing that Annie and I will be using a book for a literature selection somehow distorts my experience. Maybe "distort" isn't quite the right word, I don't know. When I'm reading entirely for pleasure though, I'm free to just get lost in the story. I admit it...I'm not a big analyzer of the written word. (Which is probably why I can't write a decent review to save my life.) Maybe I'm just shallow, but usually I just enjoy letting a book capture my emotions. Sure, there are definitely times when a book forces me to think...and I love that. I just don't go looking for it.

But I have to dig a little deeper when I know that Annie and will be discussing it. For instance, The Giver will give us great opportunities for delving into subjects like genetic engineering and euthanasia. If I'd been reading purely for pleasure, I would have allowed myself to experience the topics viscerally without the pressure of needing to put all my feelings into words.

I have no idea if any of what I just wrote will make a lick of sense to anyone but me. If not, I apologize.

So, The Giver...it's the story of Jonas, a boy ultimately chosen for an unimaginable job. He lives in a community free of crime and violence and unemployment. Yet this community is also free of love and other true emotion. The people are entirely without choice; everything from their career to their spouse is chosen for them. They do not even get to bear their own children. Yet they know no other way and seem quite content in their existence. When Jonas is chosen as the new Receiver, he must take on the burden of all knowledge of the way life could be and once was...both the painful and the joyful. But is this a burden he can bear?

As I said at the beginning, I enjoyed this book immensely. It is a book I can definitely see myself reading again. If by slight chance there is someone out there who has not yet read this one, my recommendation would be to change that.

*****

If you have reviewed this book, please feel free to leave a link in the comments, and I will add it here. Thanks.

Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot

14 comments:

Jean said...

Oh! If you want to "do" genetic engineering with Annie, a very thought-provoking book to read (in addition to The Giver and its sequel) is Star Split by Kathryn Lasky. Here's the summary from the B&N website: "Lasky provocatively explores the ethics of genetic engineering in this well-plotted novel set in the year 3038. Like everyone she knows, 13-year-old Darci Murlowe is a Genhant, or Genetically Enhanced Human, implanted with a 48th chromosome. But Darci is fascinated by 'Originals,' people whose ancestors could not afford extra genetic material, and she unhappily wonders if her DNA, so carefully chosen by her parents, has compromised her ability to determine her own future. These concerns shrink in the face of a shocker - Darci runs into a clone of herself, living evidence that her parents must have committed the capital crime of 'duplication.'" - Publishers Weekly

Debi said...

Jean-

Wow...thanks for the recommendation! I've never heard of this book, and it sounds absolutely fantastic!

Jean said...

I was in a book group once that did The Giver--that's when I first read it. The big debate concerned the end. Did Jonas find a new place, civilization, world, whatever, or did he die and find heaven? I had both feet planted in the new place or world camp, but there were others who were as firm in their conviction that he died and found heaven. I still don't buy into that angle, but it would be interesting to hear what you and, later, Annie think.

Debi said...

Jean-

Well, as much as I hate to admit this, the whole idea of heaven never even occurred to me. In my mind, Jonas found a new world, new land, whatever you want to call it. Perhaps it's my uncertainty that heaven even exists that led me entirely in that direction. (And now having admitted that, I hope I didn't just make myself persona non grata in the blogging world.)

Jean said...

I was as surprised at the idea of Jonas finding heaven as you sound. It NEVER occurred to me to think that he had died, and quite frankly I had trouble understanding how some people (it was about an even split in a group of ten or so) could think that. So if you're going to be persona non grata around here, you won't be alone.

Nymeth said...

"I'm not a big analyzer of the written word. (Which is probably why I can't write a decent review to save my life.) Maybe I'm just shallow"

Lies, lies, LIES :P I don't think that reacting to books emotionally is in any way inferior to reacting to them intellectually. I also don't think the two can be completely separated.

"Number the Stars" will be my first Lois Lowry, as I have it on my list for both the Themed and Margaret A. Edwards challenges. But after that I really, really, really want to read The Giver. It sounds wonderful.

Debi said...

Nymeth-

You're too nice to me, you know! But do read The Giver...I just know that you'll love it!

Chris said...

I agree with Nymeth, Debi...stop being a liar ;p LOL...I read much the same way as you say you do. I sit back and enjoy the story. If I happen to take something more from it, I do! If not, I don't beat myself up to much about it. I leave all that for the literary critics.

I LOVED The Giver. Such a great book and so much better than what I expected. I thought it was going to be one of those "school books" that I wouldn't enjoy too much, but I really fell in love with the story. Can't wait to read more Lowry. I'd love to read a continuation of Jonas' story...that was my only complaint...I wanted more...but at the same time, the ending worked.

kreed said...

Sounds like an interesting book. You better quit reading good books or I will never get through my TBR pile as I have to keep adding to it! And if your reviews are so bad, why do I always want to read the book, huh?

Debi said...

Chris-

I couldn't agree with you more! I really wanted more...I wanted to keep on following Jonas's story. And yet I knew that really was the appropriate end for the book.

Kara-

You should just go ahead and add this one to the old pile. It's short and quick...I'm sure you could knock it out in an evening.

Jean-

I just requested Star Split through inter-library loan...can't wait to get it!

Stephanie said...

Oh....I loved this book when I read it a few months ago!! Fantastic book!!

By the way, you've been tagged!!

C. B. James said...

Interestiong discussion.

I believe that Jonas travelled in a circle. That he released his memories as he travelled and that when he got back to where he started, he arrived at a changed place.

But the fact that the ending is so open is one thing that makes the book so terrific. Open endings are a new thing for most kids.

There are one or two sequals to it at this point, if you want to find out what the author thinks happened. To be honest, I don't like either of them. I much prefer my own ending.

Debi said...

C.B. James-

Now that's a wonderful interpretation. Once I read what you said, it somehow just resonated...it makes perfect sense.

Juli said...

I just posted my review about The Giver and I feel just like you. I too am more of an emotional reader. I read to enjoy the story and I often have trouble writing reviews. My reviews are more about how I felt then about the story, but hey...oh well. I enjoyed your review! I'm also glad to see a parent "sharing" this book with their child instead of hiding it away. I get so mad when I see books like this trying to be banned!