Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
There are times when you thought you cannot actually outgrow some things you did as a child. I suddenly felt that way several days ago. I was not an avid reader before as I only read what was required of us to read in school. Other than that, my only book collection consisted of merely Archie Comics as well as book series such as Nancy Drew Notebooks and Sweet Valley Kids. Looking back, I wanted to relive that moment even just for a while. It dawned on me that I began missing the books I read during grade school. So, for the first time, I reread The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Here’s the summary from the back cover of the book:
When Jonas turns twelve he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
Imagine a world where music and colors don’t exist; where people don’t have the freedom to choose; where everyone’s future is already predetermined by the authority. Would you still dare to live in such a community?
Jonas’ life was not as perfect as it seemed. What one might describe as a Utopian society, is only a dictatorial state-hiding underneath a decorated facade. In Jonas’ world, there was complete equality among the community where individuality of the people was discouraged; hence the name, Sameness. “The community was so meticulously ordered, the choices so carefully made. (p.48)” Rules were what governed the place. Each person’s life was being controlled by a ruler and one’s future had already been decided beforehand. People from Sameness were not authorized to choose a spouse and to name his/her child on his/her own. There was a puppeteer and he had his puppets.
A perfect place where everything is under control is often associated with complete freedom. This book will prove you wrong. Despite the “regulated” days in Sameness, Jonas felt no joy as he felt he was being imprisoned by someone/something. From flat and hueless shade of the community, Jonas’ Capacity to See Beyond left him long for the possibility of the existence of Elsewhere. His strength of seeing things in depth gave him the privilege to receive memories of the past from The Giver.
With the help of The Giver, Jonas attempted to search for answers regarding the life situation of his community. He realized that the community decided to throw away their freedom to avoid making wrong choices/decisions, thus resulting to less complicated life. Moreover, people did not want to suffer; thus, memories and feelings were also forgotten.
As “The Receiver” of memories from The Giver, Jonas was able to finally understand the true meanings of “being”, pain, happiness, family, love, and hope – concepts that were non-existent in Sameness. During the time when he spontaneously decided to save Gabe from being “released”, it explicitly showed how Jonas, throughout the story, developed into a responsible, selfless, emotionally-mature adolescent person who valued life not only of himself, but of others as well.
By reading this book, one can truly gain a deeper understanding that memories of the past should not be neglected, as it can not only affect a person in his decision-making process, but can also shape his future.
For the record, having read this book a second time gave me a deeper understanding of the story.