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The Giver is a story about a boy, Jonas, who lives in a utopian society. Let me add a little note - I think this story is more about a negative utopia than a dystopia, because with dystopias, the community is bad. I mean really bad. With this story, the community is overwhelmingly good, but it has bad elements, therefore a negative utopia. Anyway, Jonas's community is very structured. People apply for spouses, and once given one, can apply for a child after a few years. Only two children per couple - one male and one female. The children are lumped into groups by their age, or rather by their year of birth. Each year they have a ceremony, where the children become a year older, and are given new responsibilities, like volunteer hours. Jonas is an Eleven, and is about to be Assigned to a job during the ceremony when he becomes a Twelve. But Jonas's Assignment is totally different than any of the others.
I don't want to get into too much detail here, because I'm not a fan of spoilers. But there are some interesting things going on in this story, and in Jonas's community. Some really great things and some really awful things. So I can kind of see why someone would want to ban this book. Don't get me wrong - I think banning books is wrong, and I think you should decide for yourself and for your own kids what you should or shouldn't read. But this book speaks about some things that I don't even know how I feel about. I mean, I know how I feel about some of it, but other things I'm a bit undecided. So I can see how someone might think this is unsuited to the age group. Unlike with And Tango Makes Three, the American Library Association didn't have a list of reasons why The Giver was challenged. But I'm assuming that "unsuited to age group" was one of them. (I know what a couple of the other reasons probably were, but I won't discuss them because they'll be spoilery.)
However, let me just say that I think that books like this help to get children thinking about certain issues. I think that as long as they think critically about them - and that the teachers who might include these kinds of books in their curriculum try to touch on all sides of the issues, rather than just touting their own beliefs, or the beliefs that are included in the book - that kids will get a lot out of them.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Giver. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I love dystopias/negative utopias/speculative fiction. So the story had me right at the beginning. I'm unsure of the ending, and I know there were lots of symbols in the story, but I'd have to go back and read it again to really understand all of them. The only (kind of) bad thing about reading this book - I had "My Name is Jonas" by Weezer in my head for a couple of days. Not a bad song to have in your head, but still. (And now you guys have it in your heads, too. Ha!) But I loved the story and I think that I'll definitely want my son to read it when he gets to be a teenager (or earlier, depending on his maturity level).