Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Review: The Giver

The Giver (by Lois Lowry)

Imagine a utopian world without suffering, hunger, or war. Everyone was treated equally with fairness. Everyone worked his assigned duties and everyone is provided for according to his needs (money had become obsolete). Children were taught from a young age to respect one another and mind the rules which kept their community peaceful. Science had virtually obliterated such nuisances as illness, inclement weather, safety hazards...and emotions.

Welcome to the monotone world of 11-year old Jonas, where everything is carefully regulated to preserve the community. Everything is predictable and safe...that is, until Jonas receives his unique role as Receiver of Memory.

Unlike a lot of dystopian novels, The Giver is not about a power hungry government seeking to control people's lives. Rather, it is about an honest attempt to create a peaceful society in which people can live contentedly. As you read about the rules and changes made to the society over time, every one of them has a reason behind it--to make the place safe from war and sickness and destruction.

No one remembers the pain and sorrow of the past. No one except the Receiver of Memory. As Jonas takes on his new role, he learns about whole new worlds he never could have imagined. His eyes are opened to joy and sorrow, love and pain, such things as his childhood friends could never truly know. As he receives the memories from the previous Receiver of Memory, Jonas is confronted with a question: Was it worth it? Was the peaceful society in which he lived worth the sacrifice that was made to get there? Was the safe contentment he had always known really life?

It is precisely this question that puts this book among my favorites. As a Messianic, a core part of my beliefs is that the Torah is all about life. But what is life? Is it simply a matter of breathing? Of being free from pain and sorrow? Or is it something much more vibrant and complex? The Giver brings what I believe to be an invaluable perspective to this conversation.
“Things could change, Gabe" Jonas went on. "Things could be different...There could be colors. And grandparents..."
"Gabe?"The newchild stirred slightly in his sleep. Jonas looked over at him."There could be love," Jonas whispered.

Have you read The Giver? Share your thoughts below:

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