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Intelligence, integrity, courage and wisdom. These are the four qualities a Receiver of Memory must have, and one more, which can only be named, but not described: the capacity to see beyond. 

"Sameness," a process that terminates all war, hunger, and pain, is ubiquitous throughout "The Community," seemingly utopian at first sight. This spellbinding book contains a thrilling plot about a dystopian society. 

December approaches, and along with it, The Ceremony of the Twelves. The air crackles with tension as the annual ceremony approaches, and finally, is upon them. One by one the twelve year olds are called upon the stage to receive their jobs, which the elders have already determined - yes, that’s right, the children get no selection at all. And yet, there are surprises in store for a twelve-year-old called Jonas. He is selected to be the next Receiver of Memory, a crucial job, and will be trained by the current one, known as The Giver. 

During his training, Jonas realises that his entire community has been oblivious to how diabolical "sameness" actually is! They had lived their whole lives like the frog in the well, but now, after being in full possession of facts, the realisation dawns upon him that there is a whole different world out there - a complete antithesis to what his mind was pre-conditioned to believe. As he acquires more and more memories, they begin to act as a catalyst for him to really critique his world. He begins to contemplate why "sameness" has been implemented, and he soon finds himself in a conundrum, weighing the pros and cons of both worlds, which causes him to undertake a massive adventure, and transform his life forever… 

With no sensations of things such as change, colour, & vibrance, the monotony of the characters' world was especially highlighted. It is vital to be able to feel pain and love, happiness and sorrow, anger and joy. Nature gives us these sensations for a reason, and this book underscores that. We consider ourselves to be the greatest species because we have the ability to reason in a far more advanced way than other species. "Sameness," though it suppresses all war and pain, also inhibits thinking, which itself is not a tenable possibility for the human race. To deprive a human of these very traits that not only allow a human to survive, but thrive, is itself diabolical.

 

The Giver by Lois Lowry. Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Buy the book here and help support Stone Soup in the process!

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