Rereading: The Giver

Thar be spoilers below!

The last time I read The Giver was in junior high. I remember loving it. I remember it being longer, somehow. Our librarian at our school wanted to ban it. I think maybe she thought the subject was too mature for us? My mother, a friend of hers, told that was stupid, “We don’t ban books here.” Go, Mom!

But back to memories of The Giver. I remember the red hair (ginger pride!) and the escape with the baby and the general idea of community memory being with one person. I had forgotten so much. I had forgotten the family dinners and the ceremonies and Asher. But the book brought these back or recreated these memories.

As a child reading this book, the end was not so concrete to me. As an adult, it is painfully clear to me that Jonas died. He died, and little Gabriel died too. They died in pain and in the joy of memory. But I was left questioning purpose of the journey, the purpose of the pain. If the two had been released, likely their deaths would have been far more peaceful and still achieved the release of memory Jonas and The Giver wanted. At twelve, I firmly believed in the glory of sacrifice for a cause. Pain for purpose. As an adult, I have nephews that I would take on their pain without question, and probably with eyes wide open. Thirteen year old Jonas’ pain and sacrifice just seems unnecessary and lacking in purpose.

But then I come to the idea that perhaps that was the point. He left suddenly, the desperation of a child, unaccustomed to taking and calculating risks. That the risk for life is better than acquiescence to death. That he did the best he could. That it was something he never should have had to face.

Having not read the rest of the Quartet (something else I didn’t remember), I am intrigued to find out what else Lowry has done with this world and how Jonas’ sacrifice plays out now in their memories, if he is remembered at all.

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