Banned Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver

Lois Lowry

180 pages

Republished in 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Company

Source: Public Library

It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen. . .

I had to review this book for Banned Books Week. The Giver is a book that I’ve read as a seventh-grader and loved. It’s one of those books that I push on my younger sisters, who are now seventh graders, in the way that only a crazed bookworm can. I haven’t read The Giver since middle school, so when I picked it up; I wondered if I would love it as much as I once did.

Within the first few paragraphs, readers realize that Jonas’s world is very different from our own. An airplane flies over the community Jonas lives in, frightening not only the young boy but every person around. Airplanes aren’t a part of their everyday lives. But then, things like choosing your spouse or occupation aren’t a part of that life either.

When Jonas turns twelve he, like all the other twelve year-olds, learns what their occupation will be for the rest of their lives. But Jonas is different. Instead of being chosen to be an engineer or teacher, he learns that he’s been selected to become the next Receiver of Memory. It’s a job of high honor but little power. Jonas is to receive the memories of others who lived generations ago. That way, those memories aren’t a burden to the rest of the community and no one else needs to experience anything but the most ordinary life. During his training, Jonas learns of war and love, happiness and hope. But can Jonas go back to living his life as it once was without these things?

I’m glad to say that The Giver is just as powerful to me now as it was when I was twelve. I was surprised about how much of this book came back to as I read. After Jonas receives the memory of war and sees his friends playing it as game, he freaks out. Of course his friends have no idea what war is but Jonas does, and it sinks in how there’s so much this group will never know. Lowry’s writing is simple and the story gives readers just enough details to understand Jonas and the community he lives in. I can’t wait to read the last three books in this series.

The Giver is #23 on the American Library Association’s (ALA) list of Banned and Challenged Books of 2000-2009. The book has been challenged (someone has asked it to be removed from library shelves) or banned several times since its publication. It’s always been by parents who don’t like the ambiguous ending or the community’s method of dealing with troubled people, the elderly, and infants who aren’t thriving.

If you haven’t read The Giver, I think you should. My rating: 5 out of 5.

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23 thoughts on “Banned Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

  1. I read this a few years ago, just after joining the book blogging community. One of those books I never would have encountered if it hadn’t been for blogging. I loved the wa the world was built and thought it was fascinating to see what the author thought people might choose to do without for some vague idea of common good or peace. I find these kinds of books so scary, is it possible that our world could end up like that?

    • Joanna, yes! I think what makes The Giver so fantastic is that there aren’t any elements of fantasy. The world Lowry builts is so normal that it can almost be mistaken for ours in the future. I hope that our world won’t end up like this but I can’t say that one day we won’t be capable of making Jonas’ world ours.

      • Oh thanks for that insight, Vasilly. My eldest son likes The Hunger Games because it’s “action-y”. Based on what you wrote, probably my second son would appreciate The Giver more. Thank you! So difficult to pick birthday and Christmas presents when they have their own literary preferences now! :D

  2. The Giver is on my wishlish, it sounds like a great read. I want to read this one with my daughter, I think it would appeal to her as well. Nice review!

  3. Ambiguous reads in fact make a delightful read. They linger in your mind for a long time. If you see most banned books are ambiguous giving room for several reads and open to many interpretations. That is why I think such books are powerful every time you read them. I have not read The Giver. Will pick it up hopefully soon :)

  4. I completely agree that The Giver is a very compelling book. I am a fan of well-written young adult (although I don’t read it all the time) and can always read a GOOD dystopian novel. I thought I had read The Giver, but when I was recently recommended to read it and picked it up, I realized it was one I accidentally skipped during my middle/high school years! The Giver is a great story and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!

    http://loveatfirstbook.com/2012/08/11/the-giver-by-lois-lowry-book-10/

  5. I’ve read this book a couple of times and each time took away something different from it. Such an amazing book and I don’t think that I can say enough good things about it. I remember reading it when I was a kid but it wasn’t until I read it as an adult that I was really struck by how awesome this book is. Just reading your review made me want to go dig out my copy :)

  6. The Giver didn’t age well for me, but I am curious to eventually read the other books in the series. Especially this most recent one, which seems like it’s the most traditionally sequelish of the books in the series.

  7. I’m not familiar with Lowry’s books, although I’ve been hearing a lot about this book (especially with Banned Books week). I think this is one of Adam B’s favourite books/series? It seems that I’ve been missing out! :)

  8. Yes, a powerful emotional read. I read this only recently and missed it growing up. Reminds me that I need to keep on in the series.

  9. I only read this book last year, but I still remember it to be an awesome powerful read. Glad that your reread reinforced your initial thoughts on the book.

  10. Pingback: Book Review: #11 - The Giver by Lowis Lowry (re-read) - Let's eat Grandpa!

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