Jonas lives in the Community. In the Community, there is no more hunger, or pain, or colors. When Jonas gets his assignment to be the new Receiver for his Community, he meets an older man called the Giver. The Giver will teach Jonas about the world he’s missing: colors and snow. But he will also pass onto Jonas more sinister feelings and memories. Jonas will finally know the haunting truth about his Community.
Jonas lives in a Community where there is no more hunger or pain. There’s also no more colors in the world. Everything has been altered to create sameness, even among the children as they grow up. Jonas has no idea that he’s trapped in a dystopia; he believes that everything is for the good of the Community. He feels content. But when he gets his assignment at the age of twelve to become the new Receiver for his Community, he will learn the terrible truth about his world.
Jonas, as the new Receiver, must learn about the past from the Giver. The Giver has an ability to pass memories, sensations, and emotions through Jonas by placing his hand on the boy’s back.
Slowly, over the course of a year, Jonas learns about what he’s missing: snow, colors, and the sight of a rainbow. But, as time goes on, he learns the terrible truth about the Community: the old and the very young are killed, removed from the Community by lethal injection in a process called release. The process for the old is a ceremony, a supposed happy occasion where the older member’s life is remembered and recited for the older generation to hear. Then, they are led away through a door, and never seen again. The lie is that the older person will have gone to another Community, when in reality they are lethally injected.
The very same process is done to underweight babies. Jonas watches in horror as a underweight baby is injected, then dies before him on a screen. Shocked, Jonas realizes that release is actually a death sentence, and refuses to go home. His father, who is a nurturer to infants, preformed the release. He was very caviler about the whole thing, even telling the baby “bye, bye, little guy,” before dumping him down a garbage chute.
Jonas and the Giver devise a plan for him to escape, with baby Gabriel, that same night. (Gabriel is scheduled to be released, and has been temporarily living with Jonas and his family.)
As he and Gabriel make their steady way to another Community, they encounter dangers along the way: a snowstorm, as well as people in aircraft searching for them.
Will Jonas and Gabriel make it to their new home safely?
I love how The Giver is written. Lois Lowery is an excellent children’s author and does a fantastic job of writing through the eyes of a young boy who doesn’t know that he’s living in a dystopian community. I’ve read Messenger (the third book in the series) long before I read The Giver. As an adult, I’m able to grasp the darkness, and am able to understand the complex issues that are tackled in the novel. While this is intended for children, I feel like anyone can read these books, partly because they are so readable.
Lois Lowery is one of my favorite children’s authors, right up there with Tamora Pierce, who writes for young adults.
I cannot stress enough how important books like The Giver are to children and adults alike. Like most dystopian novels, it’s a warning about what might happen should we control the world around us.