Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Imagine a community where life is idyllic: Citizens are assigned their partners, jobs, and family units. Everyone, being the same, obeys the laws. Those who are slightly imperfect are released from the community. Aforementioned community is one relieved of conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment, injustice, poverty, disappointment, and pain—but all the same, deprived of true joy, color, music, sunshine, choice, and love.

Jonas, an incoming twelve-year-old, is of course extremely eager to determine his predetermined Life Assignment, just as the other soon-to-be Twelves are. However, during the long-awaited Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is completely skipped over. The Elders, who assign jobs to the incoming Twelves, have carefully studied the children for years—yet Jonas has been skipped over.

And here, he learns that he was not assigned, but selected—for the most honored job in the community. Jonas was selected to become the next Receiver of Memory.

Jonas enters a new life, one where he is entitled to rudeness, questioning, and lying. He is also prohibited from discussing his training, dream-telling, applying for medication, and applying for release.

In training, a mysterious man called the Giver—the last Receiver before Jonas—begins to transmit memories to Jonas. Memories of the entire world, memories no one else in the community has experienced before. With these memories, Jonas is able to experience sledding downhill in snow, sunshine, rainbows, holidays, and family. On the other hand, he has also transferred memories of sunburn, fire, vomit, war, and other sources and results of pain. As the days go by, the burden of the memories Jonas carries transforms him into a much wiser person. He often becomes aggravated with his friends, as they do not understand him—they know nothing and feel nothing of what Jonas does.

The Giver, a tale of a utopia and its downsides, is unforgettable. In the part it plays in telling readers how important the little things in life are, I’ve realized how much we take for granted. Maybe those things won’t ever be taken away from us, but that’s no reason not to appreciate them. One part of the story that truly shocked me was the aspect of family—assigned Birthmothers would give birth to children, and two would be assigned to a couple to take care of. Citizens have no way of knowing their blood-related siblings, cousins, parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. Also, citizens are so shielded from pain and conflict that all seem to know nothing—all but the Receiver. Imagine!

Do not miss reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. This exceptionally perceptive novel tells of an unimaginable lifestyle in an unimaginable community through Lois Lowry’s powerful words, which craft a descriptive tale of law against love and safety against choice.

-Lam T.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry follows a young boy named Jonas and the rest of his community. They all live in a utopia, a place that is perfect and everything is the same. A place where there is little conflict and problems. In the community, they know no pain, no loss; everyone is kind and respectful and everything is fair. When Jonas turns twelve, he is assigned the job as the new Receiver. He must undergo training from the Giver who passes on memories to Jonas of real pain, true anger, love, and things they have never seen or felt before in the community. These memories change Jonas and his beliefs. He changes and begins to feel true emotions and starts to see things differently. Once Jonas starts to realize the truth behind their perfect world, Jonas fights for what he thinks is right and takes a stand.

The Giver explores themes like individuality and the ability to choose. It shows that being different can be a good thing and it isn’t always enjoyable to be the same as everyone else. It also expresses that being able to choose something is important even if the thing being chosen isn’t important, it’s the fact that you get a choice that is important. I liked how the author portrayed the memories and the emotions in them. The author described them in an amazing way which made it interesting. There were small twists and reveals in the book, but nothing too big which made it simple.

I liked Jonas’ character development in the story. I like how he made his own decisions and created his own opinions unlike earlier in the story. Jonas decided to choose what he wanted to do instead of following what everyone else does and I really enjoyed him in the story. All the other characters were also enjoyable. I especially liked Asher; Asher was a funny character and stood out from the rest as he made mistakes and liked to have fun. Another thing I like about The Giver was how there weren’t many filler chapters; it was always straight to the point and explained things well. The Giver was a good short book and I really enjoyed it.

-Nicole R.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver is set in a type of utopia. It is about an isolated community devoid of feelings and memories. There is one person however that has all the world’s memories. The Receiver of Memory. The most honorable job in the community.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas is selected to be the Receiver. Jonas has to bear the pain and joy of all the memories passed down from the previous Receiver. The more memories Jonas receives, the more he wonders why his community has removed these things from people’s lives. Jonas and the previous Receiver, the Giver, come up with a plan to give the memories back to the community. The Giver has a map of what lies beyond the community, so they use that to plan Jonas’ escape.

Once Jonas passes a certain line beyond the community, the memories will be released into the community. Color and feelings will go back to all the citizens in the community. Shortly before his escape, Jonas learns how a Release is actually done. Jonas always thought that the person being released would be taken Elsewhere. It turns out that being Released means to be killed. A new child Jonas has grown close to, Gabriel, is being Released soon, so Jonas decides to take Gabriel with him to save Gabriel. On the night of his escape, Jonas stops by the Nurturing Center, takes Gabriel and leaves the community, starting his journey to the boundary.

Jonas takes a bicycle and rides all day, resting at night. Eventually he makes it to the boundary to a house covered in snow. Inside Jonas can hear singing, and he knows that the people inside are waiting for him and Gabriel. As soon as he crosses the boundary, all the citizens of his community receive memories and feelings.

-Emilio V.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

One Hundred Days

They told me high school would be a long four years, a time I would dedicate to navigating schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and a social life. A time when my stresses would only consist of getting the grades and the friends. That everything in my life had prepared me for this brand new stage.

When I was little, I used to dream of the days I would grow up into a teenager, go out with my friends, get a driver’s license, and even begin to drink coffee regularly. I couldn’t wait to join school clubs, meet more people, and bring a date to those formal dances everyone always talked about. Because this was the amazing life I had built up in my head all those years ago.

And I was told to hold on to it because it would all happen so quick. That I would soon miss the bottom lockers that no one wanted and the crowded hallways filled with people I’ve known since third grade. That I would learn to cherish it and make the most out of every second I had here.

But it wasn’t long before the time had escaped me.

Suddenly, they were telling me one hundred days. Only one hundred days until I was out of this building, out of this life, and moving on to a bigger, brighter future. Eight-year-old me, meeting my best friend for the first time on the top of the swirly slide at recess, could never have begun to imagine that my high school graduation and step into a completely life-altering environment was only one hundred days away.

Four years of trying to figure out who I was and what I liked, and I’m still not close to done. Now, I have to decide my future in one hundred days and counting. Impossible. But then again, I used to think being this age was impossible. I once believed I would always just be that girl waiting for that goal of becoming a semi-independent high school student, similar to how I can only envision myself being a slightly-more-independent college student.

Change happened fast and I didn’t realize how unprepared I was for that notice of one hundred days to completely turn my life around.

-Sabrina C.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This book mainly tells the story of Jonas, a boy who lives in a special community where there hold a ceremony for every age, with Jonas being chosen for the vital position of Giver. As time proceeds, he discovers the danger lying beneath the authorized cover story with the name “Giver.”

I thought it was really cool to read about a ceremony that commemorates age. A ceremony that gifts a special treat you weren’t allowed to have before that age. As the Giver, Jonas was able to perceive memories and view things in a different way. He was even able to lie. In the real world, we know that it’s not good to lie, but people still lie for many reasons.

Another element of the story that provoked my desire to write this review was how every family composed of two children, one boy and one girl. No exceptions. But they are not genetically related to each other and not at all related to their parents. Imagine somebody else gave birth to you, but you will leave the hug of your real mom without the aroma. Then some other couple put you in a baby bed and you fell asleep. But when you wake up, the picture of the parent’s imprints their appearance in your cherubic brain forever. It’s cool to have such a unique community, but it’s also showing it’s sharp teeth at me that contains a possibility of tearing me apart.

-April L.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

If I am honest, I was extremely annoyed with this book at the beginning. Flora Banks has no short term memory which means that essentially every page repeats the same information, which was extremely frustrating. I almost gave up on reading the book, but I never stop halfway when reading.

I am glad I kept with it. Either Flora’s memory got better or I got used to reading repetitive information, but I enjoyed the book. The story follows Flora, a girl stuck in time. She takes an insane amount of medicine to help her memory, which she has been told is faulty because of a disease she was diagnosed with when she was 10. She has clear memories of her life before her diagnosis, but until she kissed Drake, every memory slipped her grasp.

While Flora seemed to be a dependent young girl, she proved herself over and over again. Without her parents, and facing a fallout with her best friend, Flora is alone to fend for herself. And to find Drake, because if he helped Flora remember one memory, maybe he can fix her memory altogether. However, Flora has to rely on notes to herself to remember everything. So taking a trip to the Arctic Circle is not an easy task.

This novel is a great selection for teens, provided that the repetition at the beginning of the novel is not too discouraging.

– Leila S., 12th grade

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library