Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Classroom Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Pages: 179
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Pub. Date: March 29, 1993
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price."

At the book club I run for middle school students, I was shocked to find out that many of them haven't read The Giver.  I explained to them that before our beloved Katniss in Hunger Games or Cassia in Matched, there was Jonas and The Giver.  Jonas lives in what seems to be a utopia at first. There is no crime, everyone has a job, there are no wars, etc. It sounds pretty much perfect....that is until Jonas finds out the truth about his society.  At twelve, he finds out that his job will be the Receiver of Memories, which means he will obtain all of the memories of life before his community ever began.  As Jonas goes through his job training, he learns the truth about his community, which quickly turns out to be a dystopia.  Jonas decides boldly that he needs to find a way out.  Lois Lowry's The Giver, which won the 1994 Newbery, is a modern classic that shouldn't be overlooked by adults and teenagers alike.   

Lowry is a masterful.  My review could never do her justice. She creates an unforgettable world that, to this day, is still very vivid in my mind.  I first read this book when I was in middle school and was completely blown away. I had never read anything like this and then many years later, I had the opportunity to student teach a unit focusing on this book to middle school students. I absolutely loved it; the book sparked such amazing discussions and lent itself to some interesting debates and activities.  If I were to teach the importance of setting and world building in a writing course, I would refer to Lowry and The Giver; she does this expertly. 

I mentioned previously that many of my avid readers, much to my surprise, haven't read The Giver. Therefore, this is a book that I'll be recommending to readers that are fans of The Hunger Games and dystopian literature, which seems to be all the trend lately.  

In sum, this book is outstanding! It's dystopian young adult literature, or should I say anti-uptopian, at its finest. If you haven't read The Giver,  you ABSOLUTELY must get your hands on a copy.

*Read an excerpt


  1. I absolutely love The Giver! I also read it in middle school and still haven't forgotten the story at all. It's definitely an unforgettable book.

  2. I seriously <3 this book.

    And I read it for the first time as an adult.

    I love this book.

  3. Adriana- I agree- unforgettable! Thanks for visiting!

    Juju- I'm glad you love it as much as me. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I read it in junior high, as well, and again several times as an adult. Masterful doesn't do Lowry's writing justice, but I agree that it's the best choice.

    I became aware of a companion novel a few years ago (published in 2000); Gathering Blue is not quite as powerful, but still struck a cord in my imagination. I really enjoyed the parallel world that Lowry creates in Gathering Blue, which includes the barest of allusions to The Giver. More recently (2004), Messenger ties the two texts loosely, but more directly together. While neither of these texts is a sequel, they are expansions of the world first presented to us in 1993. Enjoy!


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