Alice’s Attic: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Today I unearthed The Giver, by Lois Lowry.
“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
Here Jonas, the newly designated Receiver of Memories for his Community, muses on the arrangement that serves to protect his fellow inhabitants. The Giver of Memories, a gnarled and weathered old man who is ready to move on from his duty as bearer of communal memories, telepathically passes to Jonas a wide range of human experiences, from deeply painful to exuberantly joyful. The Community is able to maintain its “Sameness” and homogeneity due to the absence of these memories, and all they contain (love, joy, violence, sadness, war, colors, animals, music, and beauty).
Why this book rocks: Jonas doesn’t just receive his Community’s memories and roll over complacently – he is irretrievably altered by the vibrant memories, and rapidly begins to question the ignorance of his family and friends. The perfect, polite and pain-free world he’s always known snaps from gray to color, and as the senses and emotion wash over him he can no longer pretend the absence of essential humanity is worth it. And he doesn’t seek to free only himself from this ignorance – he wants to change his Community, however dangerous that may be.
This book also has serious forbidden fruit factor – it has been on too many banned book lists to count. And if reports are correct, it will soon be a movie. Also, this book literally rocks — the band Jonas Sees in Color got its name from Ms. Lowry’s creation. Check out one of their songs here. What do you think? Do they do Jonas proud?
Who should read this book: dystopian junkies (what is more dystop-awful than a perfectly controlled society that euthanizes with a smile?), those who enjoy a good baby rescue scene (uh, everyone with a heartbeat, right?), free-thinking individuals (once Jonas sees in color, he can’t go back to Sameness, and you’re left feeling certain you couldn’t either).
Life lessons handed down: Yes, knowing our history can be painful, but if avoiding it means becoming an unfeeling lemming, take the painful route – it leads to fantastic, wonderfully risky things, like informed choice and freedom.
About Alice’s Attic
Rickety floorboards, killer sprickets (uh, they’re real, and they’re deadly), and dust avalanches won’t stop us from heading down memory lane.