Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Giver and Number the Stars: reviews

How did I miss Lois Lowry? How in the world? I only recently learned of this author, when her name kept coming up in blog posts. I can't believe it took me this long to find her. I had the great pleasure of reading both The Giver and Number the Stars over the weekend.

The Giver
Tiny synopsis: Jonas is a Twelve, which means he will be given his lifetime work assignment. In his community, Sameness rules everything. When he's given the job of the Receiver of Memories Jonas' life takes on new depth. He alone will hold his community's collective memory-- all the joy, all the pain, the strife and complication that is not Sameness. But can he? And will he?

This tiny synopsis can't even touch the surface of the amazing story told here. From the first line this book grabbed me and held me riveted. This is a complicated look at choices societies make, and the trade-offs they must deal with as a result. But I think what I take away from reading this book is the precision of words Lowry uses. Her words and descriptions are compact but full of layered meaning.

Number the Stars
Tiny synopsis: Annemarie lives in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen. As the Nazi plan to relocate Copenhagen's Jewish population becomes evident, Annemarie and her family do what they can to help their Jewish friends, not knowing if it will be enough.

This book is an interesting look at Copenhagen in this era. Having lived in the Netherlands I knew a little of the stories of that country during WW2. I was largely ignorant of what happened in Denmark during that time.

What happened was really amazing.

Lowry creates a fictional world punctuated with true events from this time period. I don't want to spoil it (though maybe I am truly the only person who hadn't already read this?)

What a great weekend!

My oldest son lost his first tooth, we had a great Easter, the weather Sunday was gorgeous, and I found a new writer to adore.


  1. Number the Stars was one of my all-time favorites as a kid! I also really recommend 'A summer to die'. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't read the Giver until very recently, and I'm excited to find out that it's actually part of a trilogy!

  2. I second the 'A Summer to Die' recommendation. I must have read it a dozen times as a kid. She is amazing. I just read her new book 'Bless This Mouse' which is adorable and would be great for younger MG readers (if you happen to have any in your house).

  3. You're not alone, I didn't know Lowry either. *shame*
    I am happy for having found your blog, it's great here :)
    Have a nice week.
    - EEV

  4. Lo- awesome, I will put it on the list. It's part of a trilogy!!! OMG. I have to go on the library website NOW.

    Ohhh, thanks Carrie. Done and done.

    EEV- that makes me feel so much better-- thank you! Glad you found me!

  5. I read both of these when I was a kid. I want to say I had to read Number the Stars in school, actually, but it's been a really long time since I read either. I keep saying I need to go back and re-read The Giver, since I see it cropping up in so many dystopian discussions lately. The Giver seems to be the granddaddy of them all. :)

  6. I've never heard of The Giver, but it's going on my reading list now! Number the Stars was one of the books I read and loved in middle school. I think Lois Lowry was one of the first authors whose name I remembered (it wasn't until I started writing that I started paying attention to who the author of a book was)

  7. I enjoyed The Giver but when I found out it was part of a trilogy I had to reconsider my interpretation of the ending. Still need to get my hands on the next book. I loved the idea about colour.
    - Sophia.

  8. Hmm. I didn't know The Giver was a trilogy either. I loved The Giver. I guess I'll have to find the sequels.

  9. I read both of these titles in the same year for school. I went back to The Giver more than once because I loved it so much.

  10. Meredith- it is so well written, I was really drooling over it.

    Caitlin-- cool! That says a lot that you remembered her name.

    Thank you Sophia-- I did not assume it was continued, because i thought that ending was totally metaphorical (though I hoped I was wrong). I kind of like that it wasn't spelled out and it left itself open to interpretation. That being said, I'm definitely going to read on because I want to know where she'll take me next.

    You are not alone Connie-- we'll have to get on that.

    I totally see it as a re-read Alicia.

  11. How DID you miss Lois Lowry? It's like required reading at all my middle schools :P SO glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Yeah...Lois Lowry's still on my TBR pile, I'm afraid. We never touched her books in middle school. Thanks for the recommendation--I'll move this up to the top of the list!

  13. The Giver is on my Top Ten list of all-time greatest kids' books. Totally agree with you about the writing. She's amazing. I liked Number the Stars too but didn't find it as compelling as The Giver.

  14. I've read Number the Stars, but not The Giver --you've convinced me to give it a try!

  15. I feel like such a dunce because I've never read anything by this author! I must read something by her!!

  16. I've been hearing a lot about The Giver since Matched came out, it's on my list to read, your review makes me want to read it sooner :-)

  17. I'm such a Lois Lowry fan! I used both The Giver and Number the Stars in my curriculum when I was teaching and found that my fifth graders appreciated them just as much as I do. I find myself comparing every dystopian I read to The Giver. Glad you loved them!


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