The Giver

The Giver
Published: 2002
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

A gem. Perfect. Deep and thoughtful and not a single wasted word.

I’m too old to have encountered this as a child, or even when my daughter was a child. I came to it without knowing anything about it except that it won the Newbery and everyone seemed to love it. So it unfolded for me the way books did when I was a child – every page a surprise. I was reading on Kindle in a version that contained an afterword by the author plus her Newbery acceptance speech, so even the fact that the book was about to end came as a surprise (it was at about the 85% mark). If you haven’t read it, I recommend reading it that way.

It’s a bit like 1984 for children, or maybe Fahrenheit 451 or The Dispossessed: a community that should be a utopia – everyone is happy, everyone gets along, everyone follows the rules, everyone has the perfect career and the perfect family life – but isn’t, because of all the things people had to give up to achieve ripple-less equilibrium. There are no suggestions that any malevolent forces are at work; there are no bad guys, just a structure put in place generations ago. It’s a cautionary tale, and it’s a reminder of all the glorious things in life we might miss if we somehow found a way to take all the problematic bits out of human nature.

Written by Shan
I spent 25 years conducting performance audits of state agencies, looking for ways they could be more effective and efficient. I helped write countless government reports. I worked with the smartest, nicest people in state government, and was honored to be a part of that group. Now, though, I’m writing fiction (yay! adjectives! dialogue!), learning banjo, traveling, hanging out with my fabulous granddaughters, and – big surprise – I’m still not decluttering that back room that was on hold for the past 25 years.