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August 10, 2016

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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

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Onscreen Now: The Giver

Recently I was talking with friends about children’s books that transcend the children’s department—books crafted in such a way that allows them to be read and enjoyed by both children and adults while having different impacts on each. We came up with a short list—Holes, A Wrinkle in Time, His Dark Materials—and admitted that some, like The Book Thief, walk the line between children’s and adult literature.

We also talked about The Giver, which some of us had read as kids, and others had read as adults. Regardless of how old we were when we read it, the book struck us all powerfully.

After that conversation, and with the discussion about the movie fresh in my mind, I realized that I should go back for a reread. I’ve recommended the book over and over, but it’s been more than a decade since I met Jonas. Would the story hold up? Was I going to wonder what I’d been thinking in gushing about it all these years?

What I remembered about The Giver is that it takes place in a future society where everything has been sanitized. Life is safe and free from pain, jobs are prescribed, society runs efficiently and quietly, and daily medication keeps everyone’s emotions regulated. Jonas is somehow slightly different. When he comes of age, he’s chosen to be the receiver of all the memories—painful, happy, sad, overwhelming—of his ancestors. Only one person is chosen for this task, and he has been selected. Once he begins his training, he can’t see the world in the same way anymore.

My reread of the book proved that my memories were generally accurate, though there were some disturbing moments I’d forgotten entirely. But those upsetting scenes have real impact and provide important arguments both for and against this world’s utopia. My discomfort is an important part of my experience as a reader, and I believe it’s a reason why the book has the impact it does with readers of all ages.

I haven’t read much about the movie itself, but the previews I’ve watched have shown that some significant changes were made in the transition from page to screen. I know that the author, Lois Lowry, was involved with the production, so I imagine the changes were made with her blessing. I can only hope, as I always do with adaptations, that the filmed version brings more people to the novel and encourages readers to discuss bigger themes and ideas.

 

The Giver is available online through Scholastic Reading Club now.

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2 Responses

  1. Gabrielle

    Hi everyone, I would like to know where you go to vote for your favorite author on this website. Thank you!!!!!!!

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