Monday, September 24, 2012

Celebrating 19 years of The Giver by Lois Lowry

I am absolutely thrilled to share with you a week’s worth of posts about The Giver and the power that this book has had in the nineteen years that it has been available.  For starters, the reason that I decided to celebrate The Giver is because Lois Lowry has a new book releasing on October 2, entitled Son.  Son is the final book in The Giver series and a long awaited companion to this set for those of us who are hardcore Lois Lowry fans.  

But let's shoot back in time to 1993.  I was nine.  The average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.16.  Bill Clinton was President of the United States and the World Trade Center was bombed for the first time.  Windows 3.1 NT was released by Microsoft.  The World Wide Web was born.  And Lois Lowry published The Giver


Being the voracious reader that I was at that time, I remember my elementary school librarian, Mrs. Hilda Sanderson, holding back the new book for me and telling me that it was a bit old for me but that I was smart enough to 'get it'.  I still remember this exact exchange.  I was one of the kids who didn't get picked to play at recess.  I was stoned, yes stoned, one day for reading on the playground by other students and the teacher, instead of punishing the other students, sent me to the library.  And on that day, I was given a copy of The Giver.  

So I read it and I remember really liking the book and thinking that some of the things in the book, the apple, was really cool and then giving it back to her and telling her that I enjoyed it.  Then, in seventh grade, I picked the book back up and read it again, this time writing a book report.  I still have the report at my Mom's house (she is one of THOSE parents that has everything I've ever sneezed on in a binder in her desk) and that report was titled "Why We Need Different People".  I went on to say that different people made sure that our world was more fun and that without my friends, who were all very different, my life would be boring.  Really intuitive stuff for a seventh grader?  I even wrote about makeup.  ::rolls eyes::  But, I am still really proud of my title.

So I read The Giver yesterday.  And now, as a 28 year old wife, mother, librarian, and lover of people, I sat back and thought about what a different book this was for me now.  I jotted down several notes, or themes, while I was reading.  One of themes that I noticed was Honor vs. Power and the Struggle for Humanity.  Seriously.  I almost felt as if I was an English lit major again.  Jonas receives the assignment of Receiver of Memories for this entire community.  An assignment which is given so much honor and the position is seen as all powerful, almost God-like, to everyone including Jonas.  Yet, when he starts his training with the Giver, he learns that this power gives him something else...it gives him humanity.  Something that only he and the Giver and those before them have ever witnessed.  And it cripples him.  Instead of empowering him, at first, he is crippled by all of the information and then trusted to keep it all to himself.  

photo courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
There is one scene that I won't go into immense detail, because I hope you will all re-read or read for the first time this series, but when Jonas witnesses his father's role in the release of an infant...I cried with Jonas.  I cried because for the first time reading this book (remember 3rd and 7th grade before) that scene was so horrifying and real to me.  Before, I had read it as a fictional story.  Now, I read it and really took into account this act and how much power this community had in keeping the humanity away from the populace.  I closed the book and cried more and almost wept because it made me think to myself at what point do we start trying to make everything so similar and perfect that we start to lose our humanity?  At what point do we stop questioning and just accept things no matter what the cost?  

The reason why Jonas and this story have stood the test of time is because this concept can never be dated.  This story, set in a fictional society, is just as real today as it was in 1993.  The idea that we could approach a point in time where all humanity is lost is a terrifying concept and a concept that Lowry embraced and questioned and made us all question.  And whether you are nine and think that the story was good, twelve and thinking that it's important to embrace all of our differences, or twenty-eight and weeping alongside the characters, the fact remains that you still learned that you needed to question things.  That it's important to take a stand.  And that sometimes, that first scary ride downhill on a sled that opens your eyes is worth every second.

Thanks to the amazing marketing teams at Random House Books on Tape & Listening Library and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we will be giving away a set of The Giver quartet in audio and also in hardcover.  To enter, you must answer the following question listed in the Rafflecopter drawing below in a blog comment AND LEAVE US YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS PLEASE!  I'm making you work for this one since the prizes are so awesome!  Be sure to let our awesome sponsors know how much you appreciate them and good luck!

NOTE: Some of you have emailed and said you can't see the question, so here it is: One of The Giver quartet's central themes is the importance of memory. If you could pick one event that has happened in your life that you could pass on the memory and emotions evoked, what would you pick and to whom would you pass this feeling? (Please specify if you would prefer the audio or book set...first winner drawn will determine what the second winner receives.) 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

19 comments:

  1. Choosing one memory is extremely difficult, but I think I'd choose a day when my teaching just feels "right." It's the kind of day when students really engage and pick up on concepts that they may have struggled with previously. I'd share that feeling with a person who doesn't really have a handle on what it's like to be a teacher so he or she could have the opportunity to understand why I do what I do.

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  2. LOVE this book and this series. When I book talk it even now some teachers are so surprised to learn that this is actually a series! I just started Son and it just feels good and familiar. Great post!

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  3. Chandra9/24/2012

    I think the memory of hearing with my father that he had cancer. It's a memory that will always be crisp for me, and it was very difficult. I'd want it to be available to doctors, to help them remember what it's like to be on the receiving end of such painful news.

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  4. Great contest, great book, TLT16, thanks.

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    1. Memory: Giving birth.
      Audio is my preference should I win. Thanks again.

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  5. I think I would pick the memory of when I first went to NYC. It was so different and exciting and something that I'd looked forward to for a long time and it did not disappoint : ) I don't know who I'd pass the feeling on to. I guess whoever was needing that feeling of ultimate happiness would get it : ) Also, I'd prefer the book set. Thanks!

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  6. I would choose a moment when I was at the Renaissance Faire in high school. It was a lovely, innocent first kiss - which followed a long talk about life, books, and philosophy. Surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of a place I loved.

    Up until then, I'd seen myself as a "mousey" type, uninteresting to the opposite sex. I had male friends, but I didn't see myself as appealing at all. This one person (who disappeared from my life within a few short weeks) gave me the gift of knowing that my thoughts were respected and I was also beautiful to him.

    I'd gift this memory to my goddaughter. To give her that knowledge that we all have beauty within us, and that we can be loved for who we are, insight and out.

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    1. email address: maria (at) selkfamily (dot) com

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  7. One of my best memories was when my friend, now husband, and I decided to start dating. We had set a time and place to talk, and I had to wait all week for it—I knew that if all went well, we'd end up married someday, and I was right. :)

    email: tahleen dot ovian at gmail dot com

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  8. I would choose the moment when my mother, sister and I huddled in the driveway of our new house after leaving my father. Words cannot describe the emotion of that moment-the love mixed with the fear, grief with the excitement of a new beginning. I think it would illustrate how life is never just black and white and how, sometimes, pain can be used for good.

    carolynmcc3 (at) gmail (dot) com
    audio, please, thought either would be fine!

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  9. My chosen memory is when my daughter and I had one of our first 'adult' discussions about a novel. The novel we talked about was The Giver.
    My preference would be hardcover, please. Thank you.

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  10. This may be weird, but I'd like to pass on the emotions and memory of their birth to my children. I think they would better understand a parent's perspective if they had that memory. I know that after I had my own child, I was able to understand my mom a lot better.

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  11. Wow, that is one very hard question. I'm pretty sure I would pick a memory with my nephew who passed away (though I'm not sure which one!) and I'd pass it on to my children who won't get to meet him. Seriously, that was hard. I'd like the print AND the audio. But I'd pick print if I had to :)
    librariansbook(at)gmail

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  12. Anonymous9/27/2012

    You know what, I have to also say the birth of my children and I would give each of those memories to each of the kids. Why? First because I don't think children KNOW how much their parents really and truly love them (maybe until they become parents themselves) and two because I feel those memories actually belong to them anyway (and me).
    I would love the print copy to give away as a prize at a Teen Book Club Meeting.
    Kristie

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  13. I think the memory I would like to pass on (with all the emotions) was probably my wedding day and the joy I experienced in starting a new life with my soulmate. :-) Thanks for the giveaway! I LOVED "The Giver"!

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    1. Oh, and if I won, I'd prefer the books. Thanks.

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  14. Great question! I think I would pass along the memory of waking up after a snowstorm. The world is so quiet and still and everything looks magical. It always brings me a feeling of peace...until I realize I have to go shovel the walkway :P

    I would prefer the books, please.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  15. I would pass along the memory of the death of my great grandmother when I was 9 years old. She taught me the value of stories by telling her life stories to me. I experienced a HUGE sense of loss when she passed, thinking that I also lost the stories. I don't know if it was really her, my own mind or the stories themselves (and, it doesn't really matter), but she came to me and told me (in a dream or "vision," I've never been able to recall which)that she would ALWAYS be with me because she passed those stories on to me and that they were now a part of who I was and that I could "touch" her by remembering them and "pass her on" by telling them. I have shared this incident and those stories with my daughters and my great grandmother continues...

    It seems kind of "cheap" after that, but I'd prefer the books.

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