Published in the year 1993 Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel, ‘The Giver’ was recently adapted into a movie which is how I came to know of it. For a very long this 21-year-old book has been on my reading list and after finally finishing it all I could think was ‘why did I not read this sooner?’
Set in a seemingly utopian society which is later revealed to be a dystopian one, The Giver is about a young boy named Jonas and the society he lives in. A society that, in the past, decided to eliminate pain and suffering by converting to ‘Sameness’. Appearing to be an ‘ideal’ society where the need of even basic human emotions such as anger, love, pain is seen as hazardous and unnecessary. Jonas soon stands apart from the rest of his community when he is chosen to be the next “Receiver of Memory” for even though the whole reason this society was formed was to eliminate all the pain and sufferings of the past there is need of one person who has the responsibility of carrying all those memories so the rest of the people stay protected.
This could be seen as a bad thing or a good thing because while its seems ideal to be rid of all the negative and unwanted aspects of life such as pain. whether physical or emotional, you are also kept away from all the good things, the good aspects of life such as trust, love, happiness and so much more.
We see the transition in Jonas’s character as he learns what is so wrong about the life that everyone in his community is forced to blindly and unquestionably follow. With help from “The Giver” he learns what the community has been missing all along and how important it is to get it back. Jonas’s character development is parallel to the transition of an innocent mind of a child to an independent, questioning and self-reliant mind of an adult.
The Giver really has a powerful message to offer to its readers; the crucial point in one’s life when you realize you have to stop and do things for yourself because you are living for yourself, not for others. The point when you stop and question what you believe is right and what is wrong and follow your own beliefs. The community is a metaphor for restriction and censoring; it limits the choices of an individual until they have none left hence being forced to live the life of “Sameness” and never questioning it.
But the thing that makes The Giver the page turner that it is even today is its inconclusive ending. or open ending to put it another way. According to the author, Lois Lowry the book has been this ambiguous ending to tell the readers a little about themselves. Normally a book has, to say in layman terms, a ‘good ending’ or a ‘bad ending’ The Giver has neither; it depends on how the reader perceive it. Rarely does a book leave an ending open for the reader. The Giver gives you the option of deciding the ending for yourself.
The Giver is a thought-provoking book. I feel as though perhaps this review has not done it justice but I would wholly recommend it to all especially if you love books that let you think for yourselves and choose your own ending.