The Giver by Lois Lowry
YA is my absolute favorite genre, particularly fantasies or dystopian stories. I thought today’s choice would be really hard, but this book immediately stood out to me. The Giver is a dystopian novel centering around Jonas, who attends his “Ceremony of the Twelve” in which he turns twelve and is assigned a job in his highly controlled society. He receives a very unique job called the Receiver of Memory, and he meets the current Receiver of Memory, aka The Giver.
The Giver shows Jonas a myriad of memories and ideas from the past that seem very different from Jonas’ current life – a life in which babies are born from birth mothers (women who give birth to a few babies, then are killed – although no one realizes they’re killed) and then assigned to family units – one mother, one father, one boy, one girl. It’s a place where everyone sees in black and white (I guess somehow they’re engineered to be colorblind) and when a young person begins to feel attraction to the opposite sex, he/she begins to take a pill that suppresses love and sexual emotions.
As Jonas starts to learn from the memories about a different way of life, he starts to doubt the logic behind the way his home is organized and controlled. His family briefly fosters a fussy newborn from the Nurturing Center named Gabe, and when Gabe’s colicky personality doesn’t improve, Jonas is afraid of what will happen to Gabe. He decides to take action the only way he knows how.
And you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.
So before Hunger Games and Uglies and Matched we had The Giver. It won the 1994 Newbery Award. There are actually three other books that follow it that make a series of sorts, although you don’t have to read them in order.
I actually read this book with my high school ESL students one year and it kind of blew their minds. They loved it, and we had some really great deep conversations about topics in the book.
The site Good Reads has a cool info graphic on dystopian novels of the past century that you can look at here.
So, what is your favorite YA book?
And don’t forget to check out Karla’s post here.