I want to share with you all a book I recently read with my daughter, Sophia. The Giver is the name of the book, and the author is Lois Lowry. The setting of the book is in a dystopian society where there is little fear or want. As children grow up through grade school, they are observed and chosen for specific life careers based on their inherent skills and traits by the age of 12.
The protagonist of the book is named Jonas, and he has talents that most can not see. Jonas can see things others can't. He can take in additional information or signs that his friends and family can not. The elder in charge of holding all the collective memories is called the Giver, and he has his sights on Jonas to take over his role as the receiver of memories. As Jonas becomes the trainee, he learns that these collective memories come with great joy and pain. Pain is something Jonas has never experienced before. I found this piece of information very interesting. The author, Lois Lowry, created characters who get to walk through life with little or no trauma, save one person. That person is the receiver of memories. They get to experience all the pain, but they also get to receive all of the joy. One of the first memories Jonas receives is to take a slay ride down a snow-covered hill with big snowflakes kissing his face on the way down. Jonas and his contemporaries have never gotten to see or feel snow before. He is one of the rare people to have this experience and memory. Jonas is overwhelmed by this memory and loves the experience. The Giver explains to Jonas that he never gets to have the memory once he gives them away. Sharing these memories with Jonas will elevate some of his pain and burden from the Giver but, it also takes his beautiful memories away.
Furthermore, we learn there is one other thing the Giver has not shared with Jonas. The last trainee the Giver worked with was his daughter, Rosemary. She had almost completed the training but renounced her position and was not heard of again. One interesting fact is that when society members get older, they are cared for by the community until a certain age and then sent to a designated room to move on to a new place called "Elsewhere". This moving on or Elsewhere is where they euthanize the members of society who don't fit in, are problematic, or are deemed to have finished their lifespan. We learn that this was the fate of Rosemary and others close to Jonas.
Are We Acceptable?
Another character in this book is a baby boy named Gabriel. Gabriel is a baby who is having issues growing and thriving to the standard set by society. Jonas' father is a designated caregiver to babies before their assignment to families. He has bought Gabrial home in the hope that they can care for him and help him thrive. Jonas ends up connecting with Gabriel, and they are both thriving with each other. But Jonas knows the rules, and he will soon have to let Gabriel go. After weeks together, they form a bond, but Jonas knows that Gabriel is not thriving. For the first time in his life, Jonas is scared of losing Gabriel.
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What Will You Remember?
Jonas is aware that Gabriel will not thrive in this environment, and he will be sent to Elsewhere. He shares with the Giver that he no longer thinks that society is healthy. Jonas wants to leave and take Gabriel with him to the unknown. The Giver explains to Jonas that when he goes all of the memories that he has been given, will leave him and go straight to the people of the society. Good and bad memories will return to people who had no idea that they ever existed. The Giver tells Jonas he will support his defection but will stay back to help their people cope with these new memories and rebuild their society in a new state of awareness.
What Dreams May Come
The book ends with Jonas taking Gabriel to the farthest limits of society and into the unknown. As they both face starvation, fatigue, and hypothermia Jonas has a vision of a snowy knoll. There is a sled on top of that hill and a house at the bottom. The house has a Christmas tree inside with glowing colored lights that are visible through the window. Snow begins to fall, and he holds Gabriel close to his chest to give him the little warmth and protection he still has. They ride the sled down towards the house, and for the first time, he hears something he believes must be music. There is silence, and the book ends.
You Are The True Creator
If you have read my posts over the past couple of months, you have seen a theme. That theme is you are the creator. Lois Lowry created a story of a young boy who had great vision and capacity but didn't know what it was or how to use it. Jonas had a mentor to help him learn and navigate his gifts. Her story, The Giver, is just that. A tale for you to use as guidance and support. You are in a world that you do not fully understand yet. Why? Because you haven't learned to open your eyes in a way to reveal it to you. You are taught from day one that you are not enough, and if you complete the steps set before you, like school and the right job, you will feel complete. The problem is that once you complete those steps, you feel worse. Why? Because there is nothing left to complete, you think there is nothing left. Well, Lois has it right. You have to take the road less traveled and go beyond your comfort zone and find your snow cover hill with the cozy home at the bottom.
I contend that the ending of this book is a metaphor for the crossroads in life that we all face. Is this it? Am I enough? What's wrong with me? There is nothing wrong. Congratulations, you're about to enter the space of a new or unknown memory that is waiting for you to experience. It is uncomfortable at first because you are not used to feeling a new sensation this way. That is ok, "be" with it, and all will reveal itself. Thank you, Lois Lowry, for a wonderful book.
With Gratitude to My Giver
And thank you to my wife Lisa, for you are the real Giver in my life. I am grateful!