There used to be a time when young adult literature was only based on very long series books or silly romances – books that were fluff, fun, non-thinking sorts of books. Like cotton candy. But the young adult literature world has changed in the last twenty years, and Lois Lowry’s The Giver was one of the first books to prove that young adult literature can be just as smart – if not smarter – than “adult” fiction.
Giver is set in a fictional, unnamed community where everything is supposed to be perfect – people don’t get sick, they all have jobs that they enjoy and families that get along. There is unity and no war or vandalism or many of the insecurities that we face in our world. But when Jonas becomes a twelve and is given his job assignment, he starts to think that maybe living in a perfect world without any problems in it isn’t the best way to live after all.
Giver is a perfect book to read with friends and family. It showcases the values of choices, even when the freedom to make choices sometimes comes with price.
The Giver was written by Lois Lowry, and can be purchased at any bookstore.
When I was a freshman in high school, my teacher had us read To Kill a Mockingbird. Perhaps I was too involved in reading and analyzing Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to pull out of the symbolism of fantasy and into the hard realities of Maycomb, but I didn’t like the book at all and gladly put my copy away in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, hoping not to come across it again.
After I graduated from high school and started talking more actively with my friends about our favorite books, people were always surprised to hear that I didn’t like To Kill a Mockingbird. More than once people told me that it was the only book they enjoyed reading in school, which I didn’t understand at all. Being the stubborn person I am, I decided that I should trademark my dislike of To Kill a Mockingbird and wear it like a banner – making me unique in the English major world.
Thank goodness I grew up! After years of hearing people state that they were shocked I didn’t like Mockingbird, I finally bit the bullet and bought a copy to read again. I am so glad I did. I couldn’t put the book down. The story is funny, wonderfully written, and poses wonderful questions about how a person should behave when they are beaten before they begin. Ultimately, though, this book should be read because of the incredible example of Atticus Finch, a man faced with a challenge of defending an innocent black man in a horrible crime, when everyone knows that they are going to lose. The point of this story, then, is not who wins the case – but who demonstrates the most courage and virtue in a non-virtuous or courageous setting.
To Kill a Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee and is available in any bookstore.