Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats
Thursday, May 26, 2011
"The Giver" by Lois Lowry
The kids and I read The Giver as a bedtime story over the past few weeks. My oldest child couldn't stand the slow pace and read ahead, finishing the book weeks ago. I love it when that happens! Though it very rarely does. The only problem with that is, as with Holes by Louis Sachar, sometimes I don't end up finishing the book myself. But I finished this one!
The Giver is the story of eleven-year-old Jonas, who lives in a perfect community pervaded by Sameness. Everyone is equal, there is no pain, each person's job is chosen for them--even family members are put together through a selection process!--and there is no music, no color, and no emotion. Jonas is selected to be the community's Receiver of Memory, and the more he learns, the more he realizes that his way of life is far from flawless; it's more dystopian than utopian.
The story left me with a lot of unanswered questions. We never learn how the community came to be, its location (was it on Earth?), how extensive it was, why it was made, who created the rules, how they controlled the weather, whether Elsewhere really existed. Though I wish the book had explained these things, I must admit the story is full and complete even without further elucidation.
Except for the end of the book, which I want to talk about. I will try to be as un-spoilery as possible, but it's going to be difficult, so you may want to skip this paragraph if you plan to read the book. I won't say exactly what happened at the end, but I will say that it is somewhat ambiguous. I asked my kids what they thought had happened. My oldest took it at face value: Jonas reached his destination. Bookworm Child was ambivalent: maybe Jonas reached Elsewhere, or maybe he had gone in a circle and was back at his own community. Neither of them thought what had crossed my mind, though, which was the story of The Little Match Girl.