Friday, September 26, 2014

A Book That Cuts to the Core of Human Experience

 By Sarah Jane Abbott | Thursday, September 25, 2014 - Off the Shelf

 I am the type of person (as I am sure many of you are) who always has a few carefully selected books in my suitcase when I go on vacation. This summer, when I spent a long weekend in Maine, I brought only one book: The Giver by Lois Lowry. Remember reading it in fifth grade English? I did too, vaguely, but with all of the hype surrounding the long-awaited, years-in-the-making film, I figured I would take the time to reread the slim volume. I thought it would make some nice light reading in between my boat rides and lighthouse tours. I certainly did not expect to end up sitting on a bench at the marina for hours on end, completely engrossed in a book that is purportedly for the twelve-to-seventeen–year-old set. I did not expect to be faced with the very essence of the human condition in a book I had been assigned in elementary school. 

And yet there I was, rescheduling my carefully planned activities to read a kids’ book. Lois Lowry’s masterpiece centers on Jonas, a young boy who lives in a “perfect” world—there is no fear or pain, no sickness or war. Every person has their place and their family unit and their job in society and is satisfied with it. In their twelfth year, Jonas and all of his classmates are assigned the jobs that they will fill for the rest of their adult lives. However, instead of recreation director or nursing home attendant or something else normal, Jonas receives a special, once-in-a-generation position: he is to become the next Receiver of Memory. No one really knows exactly what this means, only that it is the most honored and revered position in all of society. - 

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