Thursday, December 30, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 52

To finish out the year, I chose The Giver by Lois Lowry – a science fiction novel where a society in a future time lives in a seeming utopia. On the surface they are a happy lot, but as you read further you discover that everything is not as it seems. 

The people have given up colors and choices and love and happiness in favor of the Sameness that allows them to live lives in which everyone works for the good of the community and all are taken care of. That is unless you are too weak or too old or too rebellious. In that case, you are "released" from the community. This release comes in the form of euthanasia – though most of the people in the community have no understanding of what this actually means. The people seem to believe that it is a time of celebration when someone is released.

The main character of the book, Jonas, is assigned the special honor of becoming a "Receiver." He is to receive the memories of the world from the "Giver." He learns that the memories of the world are often painful {like war, loneliness or hunger}, but there are also memories that are filled with joy, happiness and love. Jonas realizes that his community has chosen to miss out on the good by choosing to avoid the bad. 

In the end, Jonas chooses to escape from the community in order to find Elsewhere where the memories still exist.

Excerpts from the book:
"We relinquished color when we relinquished Sunshine and did away with differences. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others." – The Giver

"We don't dare to let people make choices on their own...What if they were allowed to choose... and chose wrong? ...We really have to protect people from wrong choices." – Jonas

"Sometimes I wish they'd ask me for my wisdom more often – there are so many things I could tell them; things I wish they would change. But they don't want change. Life here is so orderly, so predictable – so painless. It's what they've chosen." – The Giver

After a life of Sameness and predictability, he was awed by the surprises that lay beyond each curve of the road... he had never felt such simple moments of exquisite happiness.

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