“In a firm, commanding voice she announced, ‘Jonas has been selected to be our next Receiver of Memory.’” (The Giver by Lois Lowry)
I called my mom on the phone the other day to tell her the news – I was going to be meeting the author of my favorite book as a kid. She went down a list of several authors: J.K Rowling, Brian Jacques, or Piers Anthony, and I had to admit that it was a rather difficult subject to have anyone guess about, seeing as how I’d had a new favorite author every other week. Finally we got to The Giver, and she had to acknowledge that Lois Lowry had been a definite favorite, at least in the third grade when I had attempted to write a sequel to the classic novel’s enigmatic ending. So, you can understand that I was rather excited when I found out that Lowry would be coming to visit the library where I work to promote her new book (the last book in The Giver Quartet), Son.
To honor the occasion, I re-read my childhood favorite and found it to be every bit as good as it was in elementary school. The story is simple and concise, the ending open to interpretation, and the world building comprehensive and engaging. It still is a masterpiece. Lowry’s speech only clarified that for me – she talked about her process as a writer and about how much trouble the ending of The Giver has given her as generations of children have written or e-mailed asking for more details. She also confirmed, as any good writer should, that she was just telling a story: all of the meaning, religious or otherwise, that people have put into the work arises from the eternal and necessary conversation between reader and book. She was a humorous and adaptable speaker, although (rightfully so) a slightly tired book signer, and I was lucky to have met her for even a brief instant. Meeting idolized authors is definitely one of the perks that I had never before considered about being a librarian.
Recommended Action: Buy – Borrow – TBR – Avoid
Length: 179 pages
Ending: Takes imagination
Further Reading: If you read The Giver as a child, you should definitely go back and finish the quartet. It took almost two decades for it all to come out, but it now comprises The Giver, The Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.