There are some stories that keep pulling you back. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is one of those.
This novel, the first in a quartet, follows Jonas, a young boy who lives in a community that strives for Sameness. The Community has removed colour, terrain, weather, free choice and emotion in an effort to bring balance and unity to the people.
As Jonas is given a new job and is given the memories of the world he lives in, memories that the other citizens will never know, he learns that utopia depends on what you see, not on what is, or was. He realizes that changing an entire community is an impossible task, and that each person has to change themselves. Jonas eventually takes a baby boy that his family is caring for and flees The Community.
Some books make you go “hmmm” as you read. Other books make you stop and think. But never before have I been so unsettled by a book that I actually had to set it down. You can accept a world without colour. But a world without music was one of the most terrifying concepts I have ever seen come out of a fiction novel. Colour and music comprise beauty; beauty brings hope.
The conclusion leaves us wondering about the fate of the two boys, a question that is cleared up in the rest of the quartet.
Lowry’s attention to detail shines through in the wonderfully textured characters of Jonas and The Giver. Her style is simple, making this a masterpiece about the importance of being different, as well as the values and the dangers of making our own decisions.