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Despite being a children’s novel, The Giver takes us on a somewhat dark and twisted adventure, where lies are revealed and truths are shattered, where the life you think to be perfect turns out to be the most imperfect thing.
I’ve got to say, Lowry chose a dangerous path when deciding to write this book. Most children’s novel focuses on the pink side of life, but not this. This is the first time I have ever seen a child book truly looked at the negative side of life.
Lowry has done a very clever job in delivering the novel. Its plot is rough, but the writing style is gentle. There isn’t any explicit detail that can ruin the kid’s perspective of life.
You can still catch its meaning, feel what it wants you to feel. But the dark part won’t imprint your mind like what the dark types of novels for adult do.
As for the storyline, well, the main plot of the novel can be summarized in one single question: What will you do if one day you just realize the beautiful life you are living in is just a lie?
That’s what Jonas, the main character of the story, has to experience. He lives in a society that seems to be a replica of paradise. There, everyone lives happily and peaceful. Nobody fights about a single thing.
Then, when he turns 12, like every other kid, he is assigned the job of his lifetime. And it happens to be taking the role of The Giver, the only one in the world getting to know the entire world’s memories. (I don’t want to spoil so you’ll have to read the novel for the reason behind that.)
That’s the first time he realizes that the world he lives in is but a façade.
That’s the first time he realizes that because things are so perfect, nobody wants to wish for anything or desire anything at all. There isn’t any sadness or sorrow or anger in the world, but there is no happiness either.
That’s the first time he realized they have been existing, but never truly living.
I enjoy reading Jonas’s changes as he gets the chance to experience emotions and feelings now that he has become The Giver. He even wanted to share these wonderful feelings with everyone, but couldn’t, because…
“They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrancy his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.”
Emotions might bring beautiful things, but they come with bad things too. Inequity, greed, pain, sorrow – they are all triggered by emotions. For a utopia to exist forever, feelings have to be locked away, even if it means locking the good things away.
Lowry captured what Jonas goes through very well. There were moments of shock, then happiness, then desire, and eventually frustration when he realized nothing could be done. But he still tried to change that, and eventually managed to get out of the seemingly perfect paradise he used to love.
Overall, The Giver is beautifully written. Its plot is well-thought, and every detail is well-constructed. It leaves me with a lot of questions even when I have already finished it.
In the end, what would be better?
A utopia with nothing to worry about but all emotions are taken away?
Or a normal, somewhat rough life, where you get to make the choice but must experience all the up and down?