Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Giver by Lois Lowry

As a fan of dystopian fiction, I’ve been meaning to read The Giver for years.  When it was published in 1993, I was fifteen and had already moved on to adult fiction so I missed this book.  I purchased this book a couple of years ago and finally moved it to the top of my “to read” pile after I saw it on the PBS Great American Read list.

Set at some point in the future, Jonas lives in an ideal world where there is no hunger, no abuse, and no war.  Everyone has a set path in life that is decided at a ceremony when you turn twelve years old.  At the ceremony, Jonas is given the assignment of becoming “The Receiver” and learning from “The Giver” the memories that must be held to protect the entire community. As Jonas learns more, he begins to feel in a way he has never been allowed to feel before, but he learns that there are also bad feelings to go along with the good.  What will Jonas do with his new knowledge?

This book really disturbed me.  It was really well written.  The world seemed ideal and calming until you got to the end and saw what was underneath it all to allow this scenario.  To think that feelings are gone can lead to a very disturbing world.  I literally have not been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it.  I thought the ending was ambiguous, but perfect the way it was (for discussion the ending check out the spoiler section.)  Are the next three books in the series worth it or is it better to stop at this one perfect book?  What was the movie like?  Did it stay true to the book?


The ending is very ambiguous.  What do you think happened?  I really think that Jonas and Gabriel were having a suicide sled ride or were hallucinating from hypothermia.  When I saw this was a quartet of books though, it made me think that maybe Jonas lives on.  What will happen to his town now that Jonas the receiver is gone?  Will the Giver have to work on someone new?  

Jonas’s Dad was the most disturbing part of the book to me. To be so nurturing and caring to infants, but to have lost all sense of emotion that you can put a child to sleep / death for being the smaller of two twins or not sleeping through the night is horrifying.


Favorite Quote:

“His childhood, his friendships, his carefree sense of security – all of these things seemed to be slipping away.”

Overall, The Giver is a modern classic that is not to be missed.

Book Source:  I purchased this a few years ago while back to school shopping a few years ago.  My husband read it and loved it, but I didn’t pick it up until this month when I saw it on The Great American Read list.


  1. I just finished this book this morning and I was so upset that I had to look at the Wikipedia plot recaps for the sequels to find out Jonas' and Gabriel's fate. If I'd known the plot point of Gabriel I would not have chosen to read this book (since I have a son about his age). It was well written, but I'd like to forget reading this book now (ironic, huh?).

  2. I haven't read this one either--sounds so interesting.

  3. Wonderful, thoughtful review, Laura. I read this a few years ago. It's a fascinating and disturbing book, a true modern classic.