Friday, July 11, 2008

The Giver

1. Bibliography: Lowry, Lois. The Giver. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1993.

2. Genre and Awards:
Science Fiction/Teen Fiction
Awards: Newberry Medal 1994

3. Synopsis:
A boy named Jonas lives in a perfect world. At his much anticipated ceremony of 12, he is mysteriously selected to become an apprentice to "the giver." This book is the tale of Jonas's journey into the memories of his people, and into the truth. Once his journey begins, there is no turning back, and in The Giver there is escape for Jonas as he delves into mysteries he didn't even know existed, and once discovery begins, Jonas, and his world, will never be the same.

4. Characters:
Lois Lowry provides few characters, but Jonas is an adolescent, and Lowry delves into not only how he feels once he has been selected for his assignment, but approaches her characters in a way that is real. She gives Jonas feelings of separateness and the pull of a boy trying to fit in and become his own person even before he is singled out. After his selection, we learn more about Jonas's family, and while they are involved in activities that the reader might find deplorable, she helps show how multi-faceted evil is, and how sometimes just being involved in a mindless act can be evil. The Giver himself is wise and pained, yet he seems genuine and human.

5. Plot:
The plot of this book is really about Jonas’s attempt to become the new Giver. He uncovers things about his perfect community that are horrific and sad, and he has to learn what he can deal with and what he must stand up against. The plot is remarkable in that without a lot of action, the reader is drawn into the fantasy the book creates, and the readers are on the edge of their seat as the book rushes to an incredible ending.

6. Needs of adolescents:
The Giver is particularly concerned with individuality and isolation. Jonas longs to be a part of his community and family, and wants to fit in; however, he is faced with an impossible dilemma. He is allowed to lie, something that truly bothers him, but he learns that everyone lies. These issues are particularly difficult for young teenagers as they are grappling with selfhood in the sometime overbearing authority and safety that may not always be what they need.

7. Possible Classroom Uses:
I think this book would work well as a read aloud, a class novel or for a small group. I also think it is a great link to some classic books like 1984, Brave New World and Animal Farm.

8. Appropriate Age Range
The Giver can be read on many different levels. I think it is appropriate for middle, junior and high school readers, and it is a book that can be read multiple times, and each time you will find something new to connect to.

9. Personal Reactions
My son introduced me to The Giver. He read it in middle school, and he was so moved by the book that he wanted to read passages out loud to me (I was shocked!). I have since given it to many of my friends and family, because I think it is truly a wonderful book. I had to read it immediately. I read it in one night, and I laughed and cried. Jonas is so brave, and The Giver is so tragic and sage. This book is truly a classic, and I know that I will read it over and over again.


G said...


This is an awesome entry for your AL Project! Now others can enjoy your review of The Giver too. Thank you, cg

Brittany said...


I thought it was really interesting that you wrote that this book is about individuality. This point did not initially stand out to me, since Jonas lives in a world of Sameness, and his community makes an effort to snuff out any indications of difference, ie, Fiona's hair, etc. Nevertheless, I think you're right; perhaps the book is not about seeking out individual identity, per se (as you rightly note, Jonas's one fervent desire is just to fit in), but about recognizing and reconciling oneself to the fact that he or she IS different, no matter what, and hopefully about learning to honor those differences and act on behalf of that emerging Self (as Jonas eventually does). Nice entry!