8 December, 2021

LitStaff Pick: Our Favorite Subversive Fiction

The Giver
Lois Lowry

When I was younger, this book made me question the world that I thought would be ideal: no war, fear, or pain. Yet with this “perfect” world also came the lack of choices: no stage of life unplanned, no pleasures but rather chosen activities, no freedom. Each person is assigned a role in the community and at twelve are assigned their life-roles. The Giver is the only person who holds memories of real pleasure and pain– and his chosen preteen successor, Jonas, decides with this new occupational knowledge he must do something to let everyone know the amazing life they are missing.

Now that I am older, I can see that there are a few potentially troublesome aspects of the story. One being that this book exalts individuality. This is not a bad thing, but it must be noted that not all communities which bond together to share common beliefs, responsibilities, or lives are bad either.

I think it is a good thing that the reader might get to feel like a rebel by sympathizing with Jonas, and yet going too far to the point where everyone only values being an individual means that we lose a sense of community. Caring about others and caring about our lives as it relates to the world in which we live is just as important as finding value in those things that make us different– if not more so. Communities are how we survive; in a way, without ‘we’ there is no ‘I’… And while this might be a far stretch of thought from what Lowry was going for, it certainly is something the readers should consider when done processing Jonas’s poignant tale of rebellion.

Overall this book is a great read for those wanting a meaningful utopian/dystopian rebellion.

-Kyla Lucas

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