Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book Review: "The Giver"

Kids and I finished reading The Giver this week. Written by Lois Lowry, it won a Newberry Medal in 1994 and is the first in a three-volume series.

A little A Wrinkle in Time, a little The City of Ember, the book follows the days of 12-year-old Jonah who lives in a fear-free, conflict free, violence-free, inequity-free society. Everything is controlled -- meals, relationships, jobs, births, deaths. And everyone is happy -- and the same.

Later in the story, we find that this utopia may not be so perfect after all. The members of the society can't see colors or feel love. And their management of their population is chilling.

The greatest thing about this story for me was the discussion it provoked with my kids. We were like a tween grad course on futuristic fiction. We spent a great deal of time talking about whether we'd choose utopia over our own lives. Early on in the story, I picked utopia -- mostly to see if I could sway the kids to my side. They never wavered however, and preferred to see colors and feel deep emotions over the alternatives. Later they were proud to prove their point when the story took a dark turn.

Do we recommend it? Mia rates it a 9.5 (after a slow start), and Will, a 9 (out of 10). I add that it's probably not a good choice for anyone younger than 9 or so. I haven't heard anything about the two other books in the series, Gathering Blue and Messenger (so it you have, please share). I'll have to do a little research before we decide to tackle them. I don't want to spoil the great experience we've had with this book.

Next on the kid reading list: Maybe Hatchet. Maybe Harry Potter (which I've read, but they haven't).

(310 words)


  1. The Giver sounds a lot like to movie Pleasantville . . . Tobey McGuire plays the lead and finds himself inside his favorite show, Pleasantville and progresses from there.

  2. That sounds totally awesome! I'm so buying it. Although, I don't see why utopia shouldn't have colors. Emotions I can kind of see but colors?