In 180 pages, "The Giver" manages to both terrify us and give us hope.
I read it for the first time when I was in fifth grade, and when my younger sister brought it home, her being in the same grade as I was then, it of course brought back many memories.
Reading for the second time, I suddenly understood things I did not quite grasp at that age.
It's not a story about growing up, or about friendship, or loyalty... or even about change. It's a story about fear and hope.
In a society where nothing changes, and individuality is politely ignored but never celebrated, we are at first introduced to a boy, who's problem is a feeling of anxiety about the future that is about to be chosen for him by the Elders of his community. Jonas is to be the reciever of memories.
Through a number of memories he recieves and things he learns, he realizes that the memories that he has been given should be given to everyone. So he decides to run away, effectively releasing all of the memories to the people of the community so that they will be able to make their own choices and know their own consequences.
His carefully constructed plan to leave, changes however, when the new-child his family has been taking care is going to be released.
Jonas runs away, due to this love he can now feel for this child, a love that other people cannot know yet.
Nothing is said about how the society reacts to all these volatile memories invading them, but the end is very confusing.
For years I thougnt it was just a bad ending and that it should be changes, but I realize now, it's the type of ending that you have to interpret for yourself. All we are meant to know for sure at the ending is that Jonas was happy in this place called elsewhere.
I enjoyed The Giver very much the first time I read it, and understood it this last time I read it. There are very serious life lessons to learn in the book, and very few works compare to the simple way it summarizes how a perfect society falls because one person desires something more... but is that a bad thing?