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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

THE GIVER (audiobook) by Lois Lowry

Originally Published in 1993
Audiobook version published in 2001 by Listening Library
Read by Ron Rifkin
Duration: 4 hours, 51 minutes

Lois Lowry has done a very clever thing in her book The Giver. She has written a book at a very simple level that explains some very complicated things in a way that most children will be able to easily grasp. A text does not have to be complicated to express complicated ideas.

In The Giver the reader is presented with a simple, Utopian society in an undetermined future time. Everything is peaceful. Everyone is fed, cared for and everyone has a place. The children are excited because it is time for the children to go through The Ceremony. All children up to age twelve are moved forward to their next year and receive some new responsibility or right, such as the right to ride a bicycle or to volunteer after school hours. Twelve-year-olds are assigned to their future work assignments by the Committee of Elders.
Author Lois Lowry in 2014.
Photo by Kenneth C.Zirkel

The main character is Jonas, a twelve year old who has been assigned to The Receiver of Memory. Jonas is to be the new Receiver and the old Receiver is now The Giver. Through an undeclared process (remember, this is sci-fi), The Giver can pass on memories to The Receiver who holds them for his community. He is to act is the living repository of memories for his people.

What he finds out is disturbing. The memories are so strong and so full of the joys and pains of life that he discovers that his community has worked all of the good and the bad out of life. It is full of what The Giver calls "sameness". Jonas discovers that without the extremes, life is exceedingly bland and seems pathetic. Also, the people of this community have no sense of their own morals. Everything has already been decided. There will be nothing new. Nothing will be too bad or too good. It will just be and that is horrific if you know what people are really meant to be like.

I was reminded of both Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Ayn Rand's Anthem. Both feature a future world where everything is controlled and it has been determined that people will just be happier if they stop thinking, stop feeling and just do as they are told.

I enjoyed the audiobook reading by Ron Rifkin. He does a great job with Jonas' eye-opening transformation, including his near breakdown. 

This is a controversial book. It is definitely one that deserves a discussion with your child as he or she reads it. Read along with him or her and talk about it. It is full of "teachable moments".

I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon here: The Giver

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