Winner of the prized John Newbery Medal, Lois Lowry paints in subtle strokes and subdued hues in her classic work, The Giver. Set in a dystopian society, The Giver dramatizes the struggles of the protagonist, Jonas. While the adolescent trials of Jonas are at the same time unique and profoundly familiar for Lowry’s intended audience, adults will find them equally compelling.
Taught in many middle and high schools across the United States, The Giver offers fascinating critiques of equality, fairness, and justice. Set in a community where the citizens are in a forced state of “Sameness” and where everything is regulated through a strict bureaucracy and medical manipulation, Jonas’ trials are riveting and do well to maintain the reader’s attention. The plot focuses on Jonas’ training to be the community’s new “Receiver of Memory”, a role that entails much mental and emotional anguish. The book centers largely on his reactions to the hypocrisy that infects Jonas’ world.
This should be considered a safe book for most children to read, and the depictions of war and poverty are descriptive, but not graphic. It is an excellent introduction to both science fiction and dystopian literature, and the language used by Lowry is easy to understand and accessible to even young readers. While some of the plot twists require certain leaps of logic, this is an excellent read and will be sure to spark conversation and debate at the dinner table.