Hi everyone. I hope you have all been doing wonderfully this past week.
This is my second Book Experience post, and this time, I’m going to be doing it on The Giver by Lois Lowry. WARNING: There will be spoilers, more likely than not.
I’m sure many people have heard about this book, much like I have while I was growing up, but I never really… knew what it was about. It’s like one of those things that everyone is talking about, but you’re left out of the circle, and you just want to ask, “So… what is it exactly?” but you don’t want to sound like you were living under a rock all this time.
Sadly for me, I suppose I have been living a rock all this time because I only finished reading this book last year, even though I’ve been wanting to read it since 4th grade. Better late than never I guess! I like to think I have much more appreciation for the overall idea and message in the book because I read it now rather than reading it back in 4th grade.
The old man on the cover is rather iconic I would say, and it’s pretty much the only thing I would remember about The Giver over the years, and I didn’t really have a reason to read a book about an old man, especially when I was in elementary school. As I grew up, I read my own share of dystopian novels: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, etc., but I think the very first one that I read was a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin called “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (I think I had to write an essay on it as well, on the morality of the entire situation).
By the time I gave in and finally read The Giver last year, I was already familiar with utopian/dystopian themes, so I picked up on that right away in the first chapter. That was one of the reasons why I got pulled into the story. Little things here and there reminded me of the other novels I had read, how precise the rules are, how people are controlled but they aren’t even aware they are being controlled, how certain things are forbidden, like the power to choose… it’s all so subtle in a way, but also really obvious to us because we know what is being sacrificed.
Funny thing was I was reading this to two seventh graders I tutor on Saturdays last year (we were all reading it together for the first time), and we got to the part where Jonas was being chosen as the Receiver of Memory. The Chief Elder told Jonas, “thank you for your childhood,” and all three of us shuddered because it was the creepiest thing in the world to hear that.
However, the one part that I remember the most clearly was when Jonas finally learned the meaning of “release” because it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had not expected that ever because even though I had a feeling of what “release” meant, I didn’t expect it to have it portrayed the way it did. Holy —-. I think I even got chills rereading that part again, as I was going through the book to tag all these things I wanted to remember. I wonder how (deeply) disturbing it would have been to my 4th grade self, had I actually read it back then. It was also probably the deepest feeling of betrayal for Jonas, but he is the only one (aside from the Giver) who even knows what that feels like. Sigh.
Anyway, all in all, I wish I read this book earlier in my life, but at the same time, I am glad I read it now because it still had quite an impact, maybe an even bigger one right now because of what I have experienced already.
So, that is it for my Book Experience for The Giver. If you have your own Book Experience on it, I’d love to hear about it!
Thanks for reading. Until next time, take care!