The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1)

The Giver Cover
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

 Jonas' world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
Author: Lois Lowry

"I’ve always felt that I was fortunate to have been born the middle child of three. My older sister, Helen, was very much like our mother: gentle, family-oriented, eager to please. Little brother Jon was the only boy and had interests that he shared with Dad; together they were always working on electric trains and erector sets; and later, when Jon was older, they always seemed to have their heads under the raised hood of a car. That left me in-between, and exactly where I wanted most to be: on my own. I was a solitary child who lived in the world of books and my own vivid imagination.
My books have varied in content and style. Yet it seems that all of them deal, essentially, with the same general theme: the importance of human connections. A Summer to Die, my first book, was a highly fictionalized retelling of the early death of my sister, and of the effect of such a loss on a family. Number the Stars, set in a different culture and era, tells the same story: that of the role that we humans play in the lives of our fellow beings.

The Giver - and Gathering Blue, and the newest in the trilogy: Messenger - take place against the background of very different cultures and times. Though all three are broader in scope than my earlier books, they nonetheless speak to the same concern: the vital need of people to be aware of their interdependence, not only with each other, but with the world and its environment.
--Taken from Lowry's website

Reviews:
"A powerful and provacative novel.”
"—New York Times
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
--Inside Flap
In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility. As Jonas approaches the ``Ceremony of Twelve,'' he wonders what his adult ``Assignment'' will be. Father, a ``Nurturer,'' cares for ``newchildren''; Mother works in the ``Department of Justice''; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named ``Receiver,'' to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories--painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder (``The Giver'') now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as ``release'' is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to ``Elsewhere,'' a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing. Wrought with admirable skill--the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel.
--Kirkus Reviews

Costumer Review:
This was an excellent book, but also very hard to read and very disturbing. The first half is like a science fiction novel about a utopian society. But the second half really gets into the emotional consequences of that society. In that way it is similar to Logan's Run, which was turned into a movie.

The point of the book, I think, was about the consequences of taking away pain, suffering and war by taking away individual choice. And the snowfall effect of taking away choice is that you have to take away emotion as well.

I do not think I have ever cried when I have read a book, until now. And believe me I cried very hard, especially concerning the twin that was "Released" as well as the ending.

I know that a lot of students (including my nephew) are reading this book in school. I have mixed feelings about that because I think it is good for them to think about the freedom of choice, but the emotion and pain in the book might be too much for young people. I mean, after I finished reading it, I was a mess, very disturbed, so I don't know how a 10 or 11 year old would deal with the sad things that happen.

But I do recommend this book to every adult, because it really makes you appreciate the freedoms we have, even though those freedoms can cause a lot of pain in our lives. But as Jonas the main character realizes, the pain is worth it.
--Lena (from Goodreads)