Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This book first came to me waaaayyy back when I was a little Angie- back in fourth grade, when my teacher Mrs. Varela- whom I still hold dear as one of my favorite teachers ever- recommended it to me. I read it eagerly, and found it incredible and unsettling even then. This is the story of 12-year-old Jonas, who lives in a utopian society- one without violence, conflict or any kind of social stratification. Every December, the 12-year-olds of the society are each given a life assignment from the Elders. Jonas' assignment is a special one, taught to him by a mysterious man known only as the Giver... and through him he begins to find out that his "perfect" world... really isn't perfect.

With that kind of premise, you can imagine how good the book is. Then again, parents still manage to find fault with it. The Blue Valley School District in Kansas faced parent complaints that the book is "lewd", "twisted" and "unfit for analysis by students" because it is "violent," "sexually explicit", and "portrays infanticide and euthanasia." A parent said, "The book is negative... I don't see the academic value in it. Everything presented to the kids should be positive or historical, not negative."

Really? These parents have no idea how it goes. The world itself is hardly ever positive, particularly nowadays. It's not healthy to be pessimistic about everything, of course... but neither is it healthy to go around assuming that everything is rosy. There are bad things out there that people, particularly those still learning, should take into account. For every negative theme that the book contains, there is one of hope- realizing the world with all of its faults, in other words, taking off the blinders and living your own life- that means everything.

In the end, the proponents asked that the book be removed from the district's eighth-grade reading list. It remained, or so I believe. Group D definitely has its delusions either way. As for this book... read it. It's definitely a great read, comparable to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (another banned book), and I would recommend it to people of all ages.

1 comment:

  1. I love your love for utopian/dystopian works. Every single one of these I've not yet read I'm going to pick up the next time I'm at the library.