Jonas and his family live happily in their regimented society. They are ruled by the Council. They share their feelings each evening. They share their dreams every morning. His sister, Lily, was presented to his parents when he was 5. Each year all the children have a special ritual when they are advanced a year older. No parent receives a baby until the baby is named at the Naming Ritual that starts the two day celebration of each group's advancement.
Jonas is about to advance to the Twelves, the final age of childhood. He is about to be given his adult profession to fulfill for their Society. For the past few years, since his group joined the Eights, he has volunteered in many different capacities, as had all the children in Society from the Eights on up. Yet none seemed to catch his interest. He was reassured the Elders carefully watched each child, especially their last year or two, and put them in the best profession for them. Jonas is excited and apprehensive about his future.
This older child's/young adult book is based on a collective society. All people fulfil a function within their society to help the Community thrive. It is carefully monitored so each person is content with their role. Jonas' father is a nurturer in the nursery. His mother is a judge. People who do not fit into the Community are released.
Jonas finds himself in a very prestigious role. And he learns more about his Community and Society than he would have guessed. Jonas, along with his new instructor, The Giver, have to make some decisions that will shake their friends and families.
Recently I have been stumbling over a number of Brave New World type books. This one is excellent. The Society pictured is safe, happy, and nurturing, unlike Anthem, by Ayn Rand. It is only after Jonas joins adult Society that he discovers the secret of his world. The reader doesn't realize the strangeness of Jonas' world until he does. It is well written, and unfolds in a very believable manner. I highly recommend this book.
4/25/2012 - I had forgotten the impact this book has. I re-read it and was astonished at the power of The Giver. Jonas' world is one of conformity. Until they're twelve, all children have to be the same - the same education, the same small families, the same language, bicycles at the same age, elimination of anything doesn't conform.
In his new role, Jonas learns what no one else in the community knows. They are missing so much in their desire to keep their lives on an even, safe keel. When everyone is the same, creativity disappears. They don't know what art or music is. Their only books are the books of rules that govern their lives - no poetry, fiction, or history.
When everyone is the same, people don't fight. There aren't wars or disagreements. There isn't joy or love, either. How bleak their world is - yet they don't know it. Lois Lowry's The Giver is excellent. In a plethora of youth oriented distopic books, The Giver still stands out.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
Book Rating System