Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Review by Patrick:

This book may be the best book I've actually ever read. Literally. And I don't say that lightly.

Lois Lowry is a master. This book has been on my "to read" list for many years, but, like a lot of things, I haven't gotten around to it. Well, I finally finished one book series, my schedule lightened up a little bit, and I decided to start this one. I'm so glad I did.

The book has about the same reading level and length of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, but the depth of the book and the implications are much deeper. An easy read, this book took me three workdays to finish: I just couldn't put it down. The story gripped my mind, heart and soul, and I did not want to eat, sleep, go to work, or do anything until I found out what happened in the next chapter or on the next page.

For those of you who do not know me, I'm pretty stoic. I don't necessarily feel what others feel. My range of emotions tend to range on a normal scale of 4 to 6 (with a normal person going from 1 to 10, and Rachel from probably -5 to 20). So I should warn you: I cried when I finished this book. The first thing I did when I read the end was ask my son to come to me so I could hug him, and he asked me why I was crying. After reading the book, I appreciated what we humans have so much more. There are emotions, such as love, hate, envy, jealousy, hunger, pride, fear, joy, sorrow, desire, frustration... the list goes on forever. And we have personality. We work together, and create new things. We are innovative. We make mistakes. We have loss. We have salvation. We need each other. As I was hugging my son, I felt so overwhelmed and glad that he will grow up in a world where he can experience those things.

In this book, the setting is in "The Community," which is the futuristic utopia that a certain path and thinking leads to over a long time. There is no pain or suffering, no choices to be made. Everyone is a productive member to the Community, and will have no cares or worries. Lowry shows that to obtain this level of utopia, there are trade offs to be made. I won't spoil the book further, but that's the premise. (Actually, this might be the society that Vulcans boast of.)

The story is heart wrenching. As the story went further, I felt the dread of foreshadowing of events to come. I was drawn in by the story, and worried about what happens next. I knew as I was reading it that there would be a different ending than the rest of the book. I knew something had to change, but I didn't know what. As the story unfolded, I realized with a terrible sadness, that this book might end tragically. But I will let you decide for yourself. Tell me in the comments if you think the last two pages were literal or metaphorical, because I'm not sure.

In the end, this book receives nothing but five stars from me. It does not fall short of "Phenomenal! Must read!" If you want to be more aware of the gifts you have in your life, read this book. If you desire to be a better informed citizen of the world, read this book. If you have children, ever want to have children, or know of a child somewhere in the world that you like and desire to have a better future for them, read this book. If you think we should all be nice to each other and never argue again, read this book. If your parents or grandparents are still alive, or you enjoy spending time with your family, read this book. If you want your world to be a better place, read this book. I will argue that this book should be on the required reading list for every high school or equivalent education system in the world. Please read this book.

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