I picked up The Giver at a local used bookstore. It is a thrilling thing to buy a book on a whim and then discover an incredible story wrapped within. To know absolutely nothing about the author or the book, and then feel the full rush of a masterfully told tale.
I've felt this sensation before, many times (as I discover more and more authors whom I love to read), but each time it's the same...like diving into the ocean on a hot summer day. It's fresh, and it's breathtaking.
My copy of The Giver is 180 pages, and the Newbery Medal on the front tells me it's a young adult award winner. A word of advice...never let the words "young adult novel" scare you away from a powerful story. After all, The Chronicles of Narnia are "young adult" and they're magnificent.
The Giver is a tightly told story from the perspective of an eleven year old boy named Jonas. The story is set in a far, indeterminably future where it's hinted that the Earth has been strategically altered by humankind. The goal: Sameness. Nearly every aspect of individuality has been erased from society in order to create a carefully predictable world free of conflict.
History has been erased from the minds of all humans...all but a select few.
There is one individual in each community who must bear the burden of the past. Of knowing what Earth was like before the sameness. And Jonas has been chosen.
As the reader follows Jonas in this carefully sterilized world, we come to several shocking moments that reveal just how much the elimination of freedom and individuality has cost humankind. Like all of man's personal attempts to create a "heaven on earth," too much of that which is precious must be thrown on the Utopian alter.
Lowry's characters are fully alive--even in this stringent world--and we ache for them to know the truth. Will they? You'll have to find out for yourself.
The Giver is a story that will not fade from my memory, ever.