The Release {Book Club}

the giver the release

Check out all the info about our August read at the end of this post!

*********

The final section has some answers, but it also leaves me with so many questions!! I really thought I had another chapter or two left when I turned the last page of the book. But no, that was it.

First, an answer: finally the process of release is no longer a mystery. When the Giver insisted that Jonas watch the release of the twin baby, I anticipated what was coming. Did you feel the dread with me? Jonas’s shock was heartbreaking, as was finding out that baby Gabe was scheduled for release the following morning.

Initially, I felt like condemning the elders and everyone who releases people from the community. It’s so obviously evil and wrong. Someone doesn’t fit in to the structure of the community? Kill them. Someone has outlived their usefulness? Kill them. A baby cries too much? Kill them. At the beginning of the book, there was a pilot in training who made a navigational error and flew over the community – he was released for that! It’s so horrifying. But the Giver has more compassion. “They can’t help it. They know nothing,” he says.

They know nothing because they choose not to. The Giver has said before that he wishes the elders would consult him more. But they know nothing, and since they don’t know what they don’t know, they have no motivation to ask the Giver for more wisdom. All they know is that the wisdom he has comes from memories, memories are painful, and pain is bad. But the Giver says, “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

How true this is! Sometimes my husband and I will sit and reminisce together, remembering when this or that happened – good and bad things, happy and sad memories. Sharing the sad memories is cathartic. Sharing the good ones multiplies our joy.

I loved seeing the real world through Jonas’s eyes. He’s experiencing so much for the first time. “After a life of Sameness and predictability, he was awed by the surprises that lay beyond each curve of the road.” He and Gabe begin to experience hardship, and he briefly wonders if they should have stayed where they were safe and well fed. He realizes, however, that “if he had stayed…he would have lived a life hungry for feelings, for color, for love.”

Finally, the unsatisfying ending. There’s so much more I want to know! How did things go in the community after Jonas left? Was the Giver successful in helping them deal with the memories? How did the community change afterwards? What actually happened to Jonas and Gabe?

As they near the final hilltop, Jonas feels like they are near the destination. Is this feeling part of “seeing beyond?” Like some kind of ESP? Or is it merely wishful thinking?

At the top of the hill, he has “a memory of his own” about what is happening. In a world where memories are entities that can be gathered, held by someone, and passed on physically, can memories also come from the future? What’s going on here? Apparently, there’s a “special knowledge that was deep inside him.”

They find a sled (The sled from the memory? It looks like it, at least.) and ride down the hill to “the Elsewhere that held their future and their past.” First, what does that even mean? Second, he knows that the people in the houses are waiting for them. How do they know he and Gabe are coming? Do these people also see beyond? Or was the Giver able to send word to someone to anticipate Jonas’s arrival?

Lowry discussed feedback she’s gotten from readers about the ending. She says that the reader is able to determine for themselves what happened to Jonas and Gabe. Many consider the ending events to be hallucinations because Jonas was dying – either that or his entrance into heaven. How do you interpret the ending?

I didn’t know what to make of it, but I knew that there are 3 other books in a series with The Giver. Jonas and Gabe are in book 3, The Messenger, but exactly what happened to them isn’t clear, just that they entered Village on a sled at some point in the past. (The Messenger has an equally ambiguous ending, by the way.)

Come on in and join me in the comments. What do you think happened? Do you have answers for my questions or questions of your own?

************

Next month we’ll be reading Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman! We’ve read two other books by Backman here in Book Club, and if you want to get a feel for his work you can check out our Book Club Archive and read the posts for those books.

Here’s the schedule for reading the book:

August 6: Chapters 1-9

August 13: Chapters 10-18

August 20: Chapters 19-26

August 27: Chapters 27-38

Here’s a summary of Britt-Marie from Amazon!

“When Britt-Marie walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg—of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it—she finds work as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center. The fastidious Britt-Marie soon finds herself being drawn into the daily doings of her fellow citizens, an odd assortment of miscreants, drunkards, layabouts. Most alarming of all, she’s given the impossible task of leading the supremely untalented children’s soccer team to victory. In this small town of misfits, can Britt-Marie find a place where she truly belongs?

Funny and moving, sweet and inspiring, Britt-Marie Was Here celebrates the importance of community and connection in a world that can feel isolating.”

Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

9 Comments

  1. Elizabeth July 29, 2019

    I didn’t read The Giver this time around, but that ambiguous ending always bothered me. Would love to hear others’ thoughts on it. When I read it in middle school, I assumed it was a happy ending (young and idealistic maybe? or just too dense to understand poetic meanings?), and I liked it. But a teacher told me she thought they had died, and it kind of ruined the story for me. Of course now as an adult who has seen more pain I can understand that interpretation. Just curious what others thought.

    1. Rachel Kahindi August 5, 2019

      I think that most kids wouldn’t assume the hero dies, which makes me think they did miraculously make it to safety.

  2. Sarah Hilkemann August 1, 2019

    This was my first time reading The Giver, even though it’s been on my list for quite awhile. I’m not sure what I thought it was about, but the book definitely went in different directions than I was expecting!

    I could totally see the ending going either direction (or another direction I don’t know about). It did feel like they were dying to be honest. Maybe I’m just skeptical of it working out in such a lovely way, that they were able to find comfort and home and family. But I hope that’s what it all meant. 🙂

    1. Missy August 4, 2019

      I was certainly hoping for another chapter! I wanted to see who took them in, haha! I assumed they made it – just barely- to the front door of the most wonderful family whit oil them in and cared for them. Very idralistic, I know, but I could use a happy ending right about now, hahaha.

    2. Rachel Kahindi August 5, 2019

      It surprised me, too. I’m still missing that closure. Couldn’t we at least get an epilogue? 😉

  3. Michelle August 5, 2019

    Because the author said at the end that they appear in her future writings, I took it to mean that they did not die. So I’m with Missy, let’s hear it for happy endings! From the get-go I strongly suspected that the release was death. But I hoped that I was wrong. That maybe Jonas would get away and find those who were mis-fits in society and join them in their new society. It was definitely one of those reads that makes you think, and begs discussing.

    1. Rachel Kahindi August 5, 2019

      Yes! See, this is why I went and read The Messenger. There is a lot more supernatural powers in that one (and maybe the other books) which could explain them surviving. But, there are lots of reviewers who are adamantly devoted to the idea that Lowry intended them to die at first.

  4. Bayta Schwarz August 8, 2019

    This was my first time reading “The Giver” and I had no idea what to expect. As the story was unfolding, I found myself being pulled in two directions – some things (like processing the day around the dinner table) sounded really good. But then a bit later you discovered that it was really a means of controlling people. Interestingly, right after this I read two books that were set in WW2 (“Life After Life” and “All the Light We Can Not See” – I was on vacation so plenty of time to read 😉 ). The horrors that were described helped me understand the decisions of the community a little better. After so much suffering and destruction, I can see how it could be tempting to do whatever you can to prevent that happening again, even at the expense of so much that makes life worthwhile. Particularly if this world and us humans is all there is…
    Sorry, random collection of thoughts…

    And the ending? Didn’t like the ambiguity of that at all so choosing to ignore it 🙂

  5. Rachel Kahindi August 8, 2019

    Ha! I love that you ignored the ending. 🙂

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.