Grown-Up Lessons from YA Novels: The Giver


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Nutshell: Imagine living in a society with no color, no privacy, and no distinctiveness. This is the community shown in Lois Lowry’s acclaimed novel, The Giver. Taking place in a dystopian society, The Giver centers around 12-year-old Jonas, who has been recruited as the community’s new “Receiver of Memory,” the sole person in charge of storing memories of the past. Because these memories would tarnish conformity, Jonas must be separated from his peers, and mentored by the kindhearted and elderly Giver, who shows Jonas what the world truly was before “Sameness” was enforced. Adapted into a recent major motion picture, The Giver stars Meryl Streep (The Chief Elder who rules the “Community”) and Jeff Bridges (The Giver). Bridges worked almost two decades to produce the film. "I spent 18 years visioning this book and really wanting to stay faithful to the book," said Bridges in an LA Times article. (In fact, Bridges originally intended for his father, the late actor Lloyd Bridges, to play the title character.) With controversial subject matters such as assisted suicide and sexual awakening, the novel’s themes transcend young adulthood. After all, who among us isn’t grappling with the tension between originality and conformity or truth and ignorance on a daily basis? The Giver teaches the value of individuality, and that striving for rigid perfection is the surest way to a bleak out a vibrant world.

Upshot: “Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.” — Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

Recommended Playlist:

“Come As You Are,” Nirvana

“Me Myself and I,” De La Soul

“Black Hole Sun,” Soundgarden

“Hip to be Square,” Huey Lewis and the News

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