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Homework Assignment: Favorite Book As a Child
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I've been out of school for over 3 years so no, I'm not talking about a real homework assignment. This is actually a fun contest created by my dear friends at BookBinge. The task is to tell readers what my favorite book was as a child. I'm not quite sure what age range qualifies as "child", but I'm hoping it includes age 13. Why? Because I was exactly that age when I read one of my favorite books of all time... The Giver by Lois Lowry.

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

Out of all the required reading throughout junior high and high school, I remember these were the type of stories I actually loved reading. Stories that involved glimpses into the future and perspectives on society, humanity, love and hate. I was debating on using either Farenheit 451 or 1984 for this entry, but those were read in my freshman and senior years...much later than when I first read The Giver. So I'd like to think of The Giver as the book that "started it all."

The protagonist in this story, Jonas, is just a child. Yet he faces challenges and decisions that are beyond his years, which is what I think makes this story so powerful. Jonas basically lives in a community of "Sameness" - there is no color, only black and white (think of the movie Pleasantville). Everyone lives by strict rules, and by Jonas' age, either you are given an Assignment, or you are Released from society (which if I recall, pretty much means you're killed). Instead of receiving an Assignment, Jonas becomes the "Receiver of Memory" and meets The Giver, an old man whose primarily role in society is to retain memories of the past. The Giver begins to transfer memories to Jonas; memories of war, love, suffering, and color. These memories are a shock to Jonas, who struggles to understand that there can actually be a world/society different from what he's known since birth.

Jonas now realizes why society is kept from these memories, but feels that it is better to know the truth and have a choice in life than to be ignorant in a Sameness world. He and the Giver then make plans to break free from his society, in order to change the world. I won't spoil the rest for those who haven't read it, but I highly recommend this book. It's written in such simple style, yet every chapter is thought provoking. I remember after first reading this, I was more ooohed and ahhhed by the fact that Jonas was given the memory of color and could now see colors while everyone else only saw black and white. After reading it again I realized the story was so much more than that. As a teen I know Sameness was so important to me. It didn't matter what I thought of something, if it was what the popular kids did/wore/said/ate I wanted to do the same. Jonas' new outlook on life was pretty much the same for me. I realized that being the same wasn't always the best way to go. Now that I'm older, I also realize that this book has taught me the classic lesson of "better to have loved and lost than not have loved at all." So in many ways I feel like I owe The Giver a great deal for shaping me into who I am today.

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posted by Daphne @ 10:35 PM  
  • At 9:02 AM, Blogger Rowena said…

    Wow, I've never read this book before but I totally want too...great entry sweetie, good luck with the contest! =)

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Name: Daphne
Home: California, United States
About Me: I love to read, especially romance books. I love to play, especially computer games and puzzles. I love to dance, especially lindy hop. I love my family and friends.
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