Today is a wonderful day in Minnesota because it’s one of those beautiful early spring days. I know that the cold isn’t gone forever, but I’m going to take what I can get, which is time to sit on the porch and write a post for my wonderful readers.
Our travel destination is vague by necessity because the story is set in an unknown place at an unknown time in the future. All we know is that there is a community somewhere in which Jonas lives with his family unit, a place that is the epitome of safety and order. The book, if you haven’t guessed already, is The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Jonas lives in a community with his family unit, a mother, a father, and one sister, Lily. He goes to school every day with his friends Fiona and Asher. Every part of his life is laid out clearly for him: when to eat, when to play, when to study, and when to sleep. Jonas’ life is orderly, just like everyone else’s in the community, and they like it that way. However, when Jonas is given his future occupation at the age of twelve, his world begins to lose its order. Jonas is selected to be the new Receiver of Memory, the one who holds all memories of the past, pleasurable and painful, for the community. The current Receiver of Memory, now called The Giver, shows Jonas a world filled with color, love, pain, feelings, and most importantly choices. Jonas longs for the old life, so he and The Giver devise a way to bring it back to the community.
I read The Giver for the first time when I was thirteen or fourteen because it has become a staple of middle school reading curriculums and a classic in young adult fiction. Dystopian literature is popular with young people, especially when the protagonist is also a young adult, and for good reason; it emphasizes the importance of discovery who you are, what makes you unique, and the difficult choices that accompany the transition for adolescence to adulthood.
However, I feel that readers of all ages can relate to The Giver. As I read it a second time just a few days ago, I considered what it would be like to know that my family and friends don’t love me. How would I feel knowing that my world was missing the change of seasons, something so dramatic and beautiful in Minnesota particularly? I wouldn’t get to date or have any say in choosing my spouse. Order seems like a wonderful thing, but free will is so much better.
There are books that follow The Giver and continue the story of Jonas’ world, which I never knew until just a few weeks ago. Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son are all on my reading list and taking priority because they are such quick reads. I always thought that Jonas lived at the end of The Giver, until a friend told me he died. However, I think that friend was wrong. I hope that Jonas lived, and even if his body didn’t, his story did and still does.
P.S. There’s a movie version of The Giver coming out in August of this year!