Written by Sarah Yoon
It doesn’t take much to get us talking; we’ve experienced the same story and we’re ready to swap thoughts. When my book club gathered with The Giver by Lois Lowry, we enjoyed dinner and tried to snuff discussion until the rest were able to join. Finally, some arrived with colorful snacks (tardiness forgiven) and another Skyped in from England (yes, we’re that devoted). With all accounted for, we dove in.
In the beginning of The Giver, young Jonas fits perfectly into society. He is obedient, precise and even tempered. But instead of following his fellow classmates into an ordinary apprenticeship, Jonas is chosen for a unique task: to receive memories from the Giver. With each memory, his world turns from sterile and mechanical to devastatingly beautiful. His heart aches and nothing can take away the pain. It’s only a matter of time before he realizes that everything has to change.
The Giver is best described as a dystopian thought project. Though it is technically a children’s book, its themes are deeply emotional: from the value of life to the necessity of love. Due to its strong material, the book has been labeled “the suicide book” and (no surprise here) is banned in China. Even some American schools remove it from their shelves, while others embrace it as valuable children’s literature. How can one short story be so polarizing? Well, read and see.
The book’s world finds value for human life within functionality in society, but our author hints at something deeper. She dares to ask a deceptively basic question: What is life made out of?
Jonas’s view of society and even relationships alters as he accepts more and more memories from the Giver. How do memories change Jonas?
In Jonas’s world, human life has lost value and even the basic concept of death has been wiped away. With this in mind, how can his father release children without remorse?
The Giver doesn’t build tension with stereotypical Hollywood flair but finds alternatives to violent confrontation. How does rebellion manifest in the story?
See the Book Club Guide for more. Happy reading!