The Giver Review
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Eleven-year-old Jonas lives in a community where all decisions are made for you—your career, your spouse, and even your children. Everything is meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made. Once you begin to have wants and desires, you’re required to take a pill to suppress them. There are no deep feelings, no real sense of right and wrong, and love is meaningless and useless. The Elders control everything and keep everyone happy, healthy, and ignorant, as they are themselves ignorant and must look to The Giver—the person who knows all—for wisdom.

When Jonas reaches the age of twelve, he’s assigned a career based on what he did as a volunteer. Instead of being excited, Jonas is apprehensive about the upcoming ceremony—with good reason. He’s selected as The Receiver, a very honorable position, and he must meet with The Giver every day after school to receive the memories of pain, war, destruction, happiness, and love—the memories of man from way back.

  
 
The more Jonas learns, the more outraged he becomes. He wants to make his own choices, and he believes everyone should be able to choose what color of tunic they’d like to wear each day, but The Giver quickly tells him there are more complicated choices, and it’s safer to protect people from making wrong choices when they’re at the age when choices become important.

Jonas learns that, yes, there is the pain of hunger, death, war, and cruelty, but there’s also the happiness of birthday parties, holidays, spring rains, blue skies and sailing, horseback riding, and hugs and laughter. He learns that everyone should be able to experience making choices.

Even though this novel was written for teens, I truly enjoyed it from beginning to end. Several conflicting emotions surged through me as I read The Giver—at first it was anger that anyone could conceive of such a place, but mostly I was confused because I couldn’t decide if the community Jonas lived in was truly a good thing. Part of me thought it was. People do tend to make stupid choices and mess up not only their own lives but also the lives of those around them. But the emotional side of me kept screaming, It’s wrong! All wrong! Because I had the gift of wisdom, the knowledge of right and wrong, and an array of emotions, I couldn’t agree with such a community. In the end I had to agree with Jonas and The Giver. No one should have the freedom of choice taken from them.

At the end of the book, you, the reader, are left to determine what fate you think Jonas saw. Yours will probably be different from mine, depending on your optimism. I like to think…well, I wouldn’t want to influence your thinking. Everyone should read The Giver. It’s a powerful, thought-provoking story.

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