Lois Lowry: The Giver
Boy, that’s a hard question to answer, the question of what is it that’s so powerful about the book
The Giver. Because when you’re writing a book, and when I was writing this book, I don’t think
in those terms. I think only of the story, and it’s been, in the case of this book, only in the
however many years since its publication and all of the response, and I still, and this is 2006, and
the book was published in 1993, I think, so 13 years, I still every day get the e-mails and letters
from not only kids, but adults with reactions to this book.
So my feeling about it is now colored by all those thousands and thousands of responses
that I’ve gotten over the years. The power for it in people seems to come from the questions that
it raises in them about their own world and the world we’ve all together made and what the world
will hold in the future and the choices that we’re all called upon to make. The book, in a way,
presents that world after choices have been made and compromises have been made and
sacrifices have been made and things have been lost, things that we value today.
And so I think people begin to think, and it doesn’t matter if they’re 8 years old or 80
years old, they begin to think, as they read the book and think about the book afterward, things
like, oh, yeah, that would be great to feel so safe and protected, but, uh oh, look what they gave
up. And how does one, I mean, a child eight years old doesn’t think in these terms, but they’re
still having the same concept, how do we make these decisions and weigh these things? What do
we value more, safety and comfort or freedom? And really, that’s what it boils down to.
Of course, kids get caught up in the story and relate to the boy and feel for the boy and
what he goes through. And it’s only, I think, later when they think about it that they see that the
boy is them and their future and that they can see how important . . . of the choices that Jonas
makes, how important such choices will be in their own lives.