Monday, 5 May 2008

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry a children’s SF for 8-12 year olds written in 1993 is part of a loose set trilogy set in the same imagined world but not necessarily with the same characters. It deals with a world where your life is one of conformity and happiness. The short novel honestly faces why a society such as this would arise with its benefits and essential failure explored. The core of that failure is that…grief is the price you pay for love. Without sadness, can love and laughter really exist?

We discover a community of unlimited happiness and good manners set in a green and pleasant paradise of high but largely hidden technology. In this world, only 50 children per community are born from genetically approved placements in birth mothers. Regulations define your clothes, toys and your role in society from your first year. From eight you have to volunteer for a range of community duties so that your life long occupation from twelve can start. We join Jonas as the ceremony for 12’s is near for the allotment of his calling. Much to his and the communities shock he is not allotted a job but is selected to be the Receiver. In learning what this is, he discovers the hidden pain and dark side of unlimited happiness. This sets off a chain of events as Jonas discovers what being released really means. He faces what growing up means, and consequences whose meaning you have to decide.

The book has over 3000 ratings on alone so we are talking popular and critical success (it won the Newbury Medal- the USA children’s literature award). Even so, it is banned in several USA State’s School and Library systems because of the dark emotional issues dealt with. Surprisingly doesn’t to have attracted the same attention in the UK. If you or your children have not read it then you have missed a classic. But if you have read it then you know why it’s enjoyable and highly recommended!

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