thegiver

The Giver
By Lois Lowry

Commonsensemedia.org rating: 11+
Scholastic interest level: 3-5
Grade equivalent: 6

Genre: Science Fiction
Newbery Award

It is the future. The government has created a land where everything is the same and all choices are made by the committee. No one is rude. No one dies, they are “released.” Everyone’s job is chosen by the panel. All are watched and listened to by the government. Offenders are chastised gently at first. 3 time offenders are “released.” At his 12 ceremony, Jonas is chosen to be the next memory receiver. He learns what life was like before the sameness. He sees his father “release” a baby and dump its body into the trash. He learns about free will. He makes a choice which could change the community and upset the sameness.

After I finished this book, I went online and read the author’s notes. Lowry says the book is about “the vital need for humans to be aware of their interdependence.” (scholastic.com) What I noticed is the political structure. Their government, in order to make things “safer,” makes all the choices for them. They even take away the sun and color because “what if someone chose the wrong color?” I compare this to the nanny state that this country is quickly becoming. Mayor Bloomberg of New York wants to limit the size of sodas to stem the obesity epidemic. He was interviewed saying that he needed to save everyone from themselves. San Francisco has banned non-reusable bags to keep plastic out of our environment. The result has been a steep increase in food poisoning. I am a lifelong democrat but am alarmed at the increase of government in our lives. The government is just other people who feel they know better than you or me. Someday, they may take away our colors.

Lowry, L. (1993). The giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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