Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Thoughts: the Giver

"The Giver" by Louis Lowry
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.
This is the message from the one who is holy and true,
    the one who has the key of David.
What he opens, no one can close;
    and what he closes, no one can open:
“I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me."
~Revelations 3:7-8~
I finished reading a book called "The Giver" quite a while ago and decided it was high-time I write another blog post.  I enjoyed the book.  It made me think about various things.  Not as much about political things, though.
 If you do not know what it is about, I will explain a little bit, but it is better to read the book for yourself.  Also, a movie based on the book is coming out pretty soon.

The Giver was written in the 90s, but it surprisingly still applies to today.  Things we now know are wrong with the world... were things that have been around for a long time, before we knew about them.
The story takes place in the future in which we can't see color anymore.  Only black and white.  And we can't make choices anymore.  And there's no snow.  But also, there is no pain anymore.  And no crushes on boys or girls, which also means, I suppose, no lust.  No emotions, and no love.  But.  There is perfection of language, everyone using correct grammar and the right word for things can't be stressed enough in this world.  Everything is clean and organized, and we have reached the height of potential with technology.  It's basically a Utopia, but from the very start, you know something is wrong.
It is a pretty short read, (and it's on youtube on audio book if you want to listen to it) but so full of ideas.  It's one of those books I think everyone should one day read, and discuss with family or friends.

This book made me think about how we overuse the word "love", how every choice we make is important, and how we are responsible for the choices we make. 
Most of the time, when we use the word "love," we really mean, "extremely like".  But that isn't love!  There are many sides to love.  It's mysterious and beautiful.  It's not just caring about someone's well-being.  It's kind and patient and not complaining or prideful... and well, read 1 Corinthians 13.  Even all that doesn't completely describe love, and love isn't the only thing that describes God.  But... I'm going off topic.
Children don't normally understand political things when they're young.  That stuff goes over their heads.  They don't normally care about it, because it doesn't affect their immediate happiness much.  We all come from different backgrounds and different reading habits, and different views, of course though. 

There were a few things I didn't agree with that I felt was obvious the author was trying to say through the story, but those were minor things.  And... even if people disagree about a book, that's what makes the book all the better, because it makes us talk about it and think about it.  A book or movie that doesn't offend or challenge or inspire you isn't as worth reading as a book or movie people see differently.

This is the sort of book that shows the power of story, the potential of story through details and themes.  It only mentions a few things in passing, but even just the mentioning of them makes you ask questions, and think.

For example, the removing of colors only made sense (why the government would do that) when the narrator mentioned the color of people's skin.  It made me think about how today's culture is obsessed with equality in every way. 
But we /are/ equal.  Color doesn't change that.  And yet the world ignores this and keeps fighting the air and making a big deal about whether or not someone in a movie/book has dark skin or not. 

I was a bit shocked at the dishonor it was to be an actual birth-mother, in the setting of the story.  Shouldn't they have respect?  The narrator didn't explain. 
And yet the receiver - the one who receives memories of how things used to be - was given the most respect because they... oh.  Because the government didn't want to have to bear pain and the receiver was their way out.  I still don't get it though. 
Then there was the issue of controlled population and sort-of abortion but not, that was present in the book. 
People shouldn't be killed because of fear.  The world was created to thrive under our ownership of it. 
I've realized how often we make decisions that are informed by fear of what may happen.  It may be painful or uncomfortable to go through something.  But a lot of things we don't do because of fear are things we should do anyway.  We are called to be brave.  To create.  To encourage.  To tell the truth.

Then there was the issue of war in the book, and how terrible it was.
And also the question of choices.  Someone always has a choice, even if it's greedy people who are in control.  That's what makes it unfair, because if no one can make the right decision, than the people in control will make mistakes too, no matter how much they try not to.  It's just in our nature.  But still, we can't let robots make decisions for us instead of ourselves.  It's our responsibility to choose for ourselves, different things.  Because we're all unique, and not everyone will understand us.  And because we were given free will by our creator.  Of course, there is a right and wrong, and there will always be a right and wrong.
It is easier to live without having to make choices.  It doesn't require courage and confidence.  It only requires gullibility and blind trust in whoever is making a choice for us.

This book would have made a little more sense if Jonas was 13 instead of 12, but it worked well anyway.  I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone younger than 13, but of course I suppose it depends on one's maturity and not their age.  Age doesn't define how prepared someone is for whatever task is to be given them.
If these questions and/or themes appeal to you, along with science fiction, you may like this book. 

I'm interested to see how they will make the movie, whether it explores those questions better or not as much as the book.

Have you read The Giver?  What do you think of it?  And are you excited about the movie?


  1. I really love The Giver. I read it aaaages ago, though, so I'd be interested to reread it and see if my thoughts have changed. Originally I was just like WHAT when it ended like that. But now I appreciate it. I think the political aspect was really simply done, but powerful, and I totally get why Jonas was 12. I know they're making a lot of changes for the movie, but I'm okay with that. I'm pretty keen to see it! :) I hope it still has the same punchy ending though. ;)
    Thanks for stopping by @ Notebook Sisters!

    1. Yeah, I was thinking "What." as well at the end. :P But it was interesting. We shall have to wait and see. ;) Thanks for stopping by here too! Your blog is pretty cool.