Thursday, June 01, 2006

Reader's Diary #101- Lois Lowry: The Giver (FINISHED)

Lately I've been very strongly opinionated about the books I've been reading. Rest assured, I do have other emotions somewhere between love and hate.

This book however, comes close to love. It is a fantastic book, especially for teens. I keep dwelling on the fact that this book has been banned so often in public schools- and I'm still confused by it. The only thing I can came up with is that those wishing for it banned are just not reading it. Are they mistakenly thinking Lowry is advocating for the bleak future she describes? Because, as anyone who reads it knows, quite the opposite is true.

I haven't said anything negative about the book as of yet. But I do have a few small beefs. I'm not fussy on Lowry's description of memories. Too often Lowry tries to make memories tangible things, and isolated things. For instance, when the previous receiver died, apparently all of her memories went out to the people who had to absorb them. Memories aren't energy (neither created nor destroyed) and obviously some memories do die with people. That's a problem I found hard to reconcile with the book. Also, as the Giver passed along memories of colour to Jonas, he began to lose those colours from his sight, as if colour could be tied only to specific memories. Were memories supposed to be somehow connected to our biological beings? Maybe some evolutionary thing? I'm not sure how Lowry took this leap (or expected readers to) but perhaps it should have been explained a little more.

Also, the ending was a bit too ambiguous for my liking. I'm not against endings that are open to interpretation per se, but the interpretations here seem to delve a bit too far into metaphysical territory that I'm never a big fan of (like plots involving Q from Star Trek TNG), and would be a bit too much for a younger reader anyway (I think).

Ending aside, even my so called issues with the book would be great conversation starters and perfect for young adults. I've often wondered why psychology isn't taught in high schools (seriously, a lot more people take psychology courses in university than say geology -just as an example- yet that's taught in highschools). But Lowry's book (despite my earlier comment that she sometimes seems critical of psychiatry), is a perfect way to introduce to psychology to a younger audience. And it would be way more meaningful to them to learn about memories, for example, through a book like this, which holds their attention, makes it interesting and demands discussion rather than with a psychology text book. It doesn't get into all the psychology jargon that might be necessary to learn later on, but it's a darn fine introduction.

(Is it any surprise I took psychology and education in University?)


Robert Hiscock said...

I'm a big fan of this book and, in my experience,younger readers seem to love it. I can't imagine why anyone has a problem with it.

It's compelling.
It's thought-provoking.
It's well written.

It's everything a book for young readers ought to be.

John Mutford said...

Compelling, thought-provoking and well-written. Should a book for older readers be any different?

John Mutford said...

Some of the so-called reasons people felt it should be banned can be found here