When I read The Giver as a teenager I was mesmerized.

It made me think more than any other book I had read before.

I still remember reading a big portion of it on an airplane headed who-knows-where, thinking through all the concepts that I had never really thought through before.  The freedom to choose.  The beauty of colors, of differences, of memories.  The good and the bad, all coming together to make life rich and rewarding.

So when it was on Grace’s reading list this year I was excited to read it with her.

As we were reading Claire started listening in too.

Then Elle started reading it separately, and Max too.

I ate up the opportunity to discuss so many ideas and concepts with all the kids.  Thinking about how grateful we are we don’t have “sameness” here…especially here, and how rich and wonderful the world is with vibrancy and choices and love and even hardships.

We were fascinated by the book, especially reading it while reading up and learning so much about “sameness” while living in a communist country (totally not like the book, but still food for thought).

After we read the book we watched the movie.  (We watched it in little snippets…part of it at home before the Chinese DVD we bought quit working, part in the car, part on a computer….the act of trying to watch movies here is sometimes entertainment in and of itself, which makes me laugh that this is the place we’ve watched the most family movies.)  At first all of us were frustrated that the movie was SO different from the book.  What?  Jonas is 17??  The commander lady wasn’t even at the big ceremony?? Fiona is wonderfully talented at working with children and not with the elderly??

Changes like these in movies normally make me mad but we ended up loving the movie.  They twisted it a totally different way and probably Lois Lawry would not be oh-so-happy about it, but I loved how the movie made me think, and in a different way from how the book did.  There is one scene at the end that made me want to shout on the rooftops how amazing and beautiful this life of ours really is.  And how incredibly lucky we all are, as humanity, to be able to experience it.  Yes, the good and the bad.  The tough and the easy.  The depth and breath of human existence.  This scene spoke to me like not many have before, and brought tears spilling out of my eyes…mostly the part where it just flips through scene after scene of “life” in such a beautiful way.

I found this video on YouTube a while ago and stuck it on here but now it won’t let me watch it, saying “this video is not available in your country” so I hope this is still the right one…

Did you feel it?  The glory of life?  How grateful I am for books like The Giver, and how they make me and my family think…and appreciate life like never before.

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  1. I love the giver. One of my book highlights for the year was discovering there are four books in the series. After years of loving the giver I was able to read the rest of the stories over a weekend. So good! Check them out. I haven't seen the movie, and now likely won't but dang I appreciate how this series makes me think.

  2. I too really enjoyed The Giver, as did my girls. I liked the movie, even with all the changes. You might be interested in reading some interviews I read with Lois Lowry about The Giver. http://www.npr.org/2014/08/16/340170478/lois-lowry-says-the-giver-was-inspired-by-her-fathers-memory-loss

    I also really enjoyed this interview:
    She also has a blog which you might like to read too.


  3. I recently discovered The Giver is part of a book series quartet! I am excited to read the other three, but I was told the end of the movie relied on part of the plot from the other books. We shall see.

  4. What choices do your kids have? Can they decide to try out another church? Can they decide not to go on a mission? How about not going to college and becoming an artist or a musician? Can they marry someone not LDS? Can they decide to stay single and not have any children? Can they love anyone they want, even if the person they love is the same sex as them?

    1. Dear Shawni, I would love to hear your answers to these questions. I love reading your blog and lerning about your religion! I`m sooo jealous that you and your family get to live in China and travel so much-but I`m so happy for you! All the best!

    2. She won't answer them. She will delete my comment as soon as she reads it. Or she will answer in generalities, not address each specific question and how it would affect their family if the children chose these things. I hope I'm wrong. A lot of us would like to know, specifically, how Shawni and Dave, Grammie and Grandfather, and the rest would react if any of the kids chose the SPECIFIC courses of life I listed above.

    3. MOST parents have a direction in life they would love for their children to follow — no matter religion or beliefs. Some are more specific–even people who are not religious have an idea of how they want their children's lives to turn out. Some parents are doctors and VERY strongly encourage their children to follow the same path. It's their right to try to persuade–they are the parent. But, it's also the child's right to ultimately decide their path. And most parents will love the child no matter what they decide even if it's a bit heart breaking. I wonder why you read this blog if you are obviously against the way Shawni raises her children.

    4. I am not against it. I wonder how the deviations from their expectations I asked about above would affect them and their family considering their beliefs. I am curious, as are others, whether the children would be accepted if they made those choices or if they would be ostracized by the family and the church.

      When you make such a huge deal about your beliefs in a forum such as this blog, you have to expect some "hard" questions – you don't have to answer them, but the lack of answers are really answers in themselves, wouldn't you say?

      Of course there is nothing wrong with strongly encouraging children as far as their religious and career choices….I would just like to hear Shawni's view of "what if…"

    5. Dear Madam Queen,

      I’m a proud agnostic, I’m from Europe and I usually read Shawni’s blog. I enjoy her writing and also find funny some crazy ideas from other readers about European habits (totally untrue, believe me).

      Although I agree with Shawni on the important things (family, love, etc.), I often disagree on how she understands them. But it’s completely reasonable since we don’t share the faith-centred point of view.

      Anyway, the point of this comment is to respectfully ask you to share your thoughts ‘offline’ before posting them. Show them to relatives, friends or whoever is near to you at that moment. I’m sure most of the time they would suggest you do not post these comments. The way you answer to other people seems to indicate you are not aware that your comments are really unpleasant and mean.

      Please, notice that I’m talking about your comments, not you. Just think about how your comments are usually received. Is it possible that most people mistake them? If that’s the case, isn’t it more likely that the comments are really unkind instead of all the readers being wrong?

      You might not mean to, but even if your comments point out something interesting they do it from a very negative and offensive point of view.

      I’m just tired about all this issue and took the liberty of stepping out and say my word. I apologize if this have came out worse than I meant or if if I’ve bothered you.

    6. Rita – thank you for your post. I will try to make my comments seem less offensive.

      However, it seems like any time I question anything Shawni says or does, or any time I ask her to explain WHY she says or does something – people take it as being offensive.

      There are many questions I've asked where I've never gotten answers, which is fine if she doesn't want to. But I'd rather her come right out and say "I don't want to answer that – it's too personal." or something like that. Not the condescending "Oh I know you're a good person, I'll pray for you since you ask mean questions…"

      My point is – you can't put yourself and your family out there on the internet and expect people to just say "oh yes, that's great" – Shawni likes Hard Things….at least for her kids.

      How about some answers to some Hard Questions?

      Asked most respectfully, MQ

    7. Madam Queen- Hi! I am a member of the LDS church and one of your questions grabbed my attention. You were curious to see if the church would exclude the children based on those choices that they make. As a member of the church, I have seen people make some of those choices, but the church does not exclude them. They won't be like "you made the wrong decision, so you aren't welcome here anymore". Now, people in the church may talk, but we are not perfect. I hope this made sense in some way 🙂

    8. I grew up in a large LDS family of 7 children. that is somewhat similar to the Eyre's. We were taught and lived the principles of the church from a young age. Expectations were set pretty high for us. Now all of us are grown with children of our own, some of those kids are adults now as well. Some have chosen to live different lifestyles than how they were raised. They have chosen their own path and they are still a loved, important part of our family. We still support and love them and hope for their happiness. Teaching our children certain principles isn't brainwashing or forcing them, they still have their choice to live how they choose. It does give them a great foundation for life to have those values deep in their hearts.

  5. Thank you, this will be the next book I read! I hope these book review/ recommendations become a regular thing on your blog. I crave for recommendations from intelligent people.

  6. I heard an NPR interview with Lois Lowry where she endorsed the changes in the movie and she even said that she wishes she had the chance to rewrite some of it! I thought that was interesting. She was very accepting of the changes she needed to make for a different medium and she was happy with how it turned out. BTW, the video does not work – it says "not available in your country."

  7. Lowry wanted to spend more time on Jonas and Gabriel leaving. In that sense it was nice the movie expanded that plot. The changes made wre true to the rules of the society.

    The world isn't perfect. It's will not ever be. That is the point of these books. A seemingly perfect society isn't perfect to everyone, there are always those that don't fit neatly into the box that society demands. The perfection is often a lie or at least an illusion. It's the perfect stage of life to question the why and how things are all arranged. As movies of books go I think it was a respectful presentation.

  8. Shoot you guys can't see the video? Dang! Try googling "The Giver epic scene" and see if it comes up. The slices of life are so beautiful and the narration really makes you think.

    Madame Queen, I'm sorry if it feels like I haven't been answering your questions lately. To be honest, sometimes I can't tell if they are really questions or if you are just angry at me. And often they are things you and I have discussed (along with other blog readers) at length in a different post. This one today we have talked about before but since I can't find the link, I'll try to answer again here as soon as I get home…(I have to run right now). If you are really wanting answers I'd love to discuss, but maybe you could phrase the questions in a more positive way so I'll know you really want to discuss? If you just want to be mad at me, I hope you will excuse me for just letting it be.

    I'll get back to this one soon.

  9. I am so curious to see how you approached the infanticide scene in the book. I have to admit, that really shocked me in a YA book. I think it's a topic that needs to be discussed, at least with older kids. How did your younger kids handle it? And, have you read the other books in the quartet? I read all of them this summer. I was so stunned that The Giver just sort of ended in a cliffhanger. Anyway, it all came full circle in the last book, "Son".

  10. Ok, things have finally settled down at midnight over here but I'm a little tired so I hope this makes sense. I would just like to first of all say thank you to the answers people often offer to the questions that come up here. Sometimes life just gets too crazy and although I read all the comments, I can't seem to get time to come answer things I wish I could so I'm so glad for the wisdom that others offer. As to the question about whether our kids have choices and whether they would still be accepted if they deviated from our religion the answer is a whole hearted yes to both. The whole plan of life is based on free-agency. I'd just like to echo what others have said: parents have the duty to guide their children, and are most likely to guide them as they were guided…especially if that has brought joy and happiness to them. That's only natural. Dave and I would love for our children to remain in our faith because it's brought us so much happiness. I would love for them to go to college because that brought me happiness too. I would love for them to marry someone they love and have families of their own. I am so grateful for mine and the things I learn from them and the joy they bring to my life. But I also know that everyone has a different path in life. My kids may find happiness in a different way than I do. I may not be so happy with some of the decisions they make, but I will always adore them. I echo what Cheryl and Leti and Laurie said so well. People aren't perfect. Families aren't perfect. There are no perfect decisions. But no matter what my kids do they will be loved. Not only by Dave and me, but by our extended families and other members of our church. They have an army of people who love them and for that I am so grateful! Sure there would be people who judged them if they go off on some different path, even within the church. It's just human nature and people aren't perfect, no matter what church you are a part of. But I think the bottom line of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ is to give people the benefit of the doubt and to love with no strings attached. I think it's great to be the recipient of that love, but maybe it's even better to be the GIVER of that kind of love. That's what really brings joy.

    I hope that answers that question. Madame Queen (and anyone else), please let me know if you want clarifications. I do think Rita had a great idea to maybe it would help to be aware of how you phrase things. I'm well aware that anything I put out here on this blog is up for dispute and that's great with me. I'd just love to keep it positive so that productive discussions can happen that we can all grow and learn from. Please help me keep this blog a place to empower not to break down. I would really appreciate it.

    1. Thanks, Shawni – I will read over my future comments to make sure they don't have a negative tone from now on.

      I appreciate your answers and I am so glad to hear what you said. Some fundamentalist religions shun their own children if they leave the faith – especially if they are living a lifestyle that goes against their doctrine. I am extremely pleased to learn that this isn't the case here.

  11. I first read The Giver during a Children's Lit class at BYU and fell in love with it. I've read it over and over, and was so excited when Brooklyn was old enough to read it too. We read it together over the summer and when the movie came out we had a little mom/daughter date night to go see it. I loved your insights into the book and movie and agree whole-heartedly! I was worried the changes wouldn't sit well, but I loved them!

  12. I think this was one of the rare cases that I actually liked the movie better than the book. Something about those epic scenes really got to me, and both my husband (who has never read the book) and I were bawling in the theater when we saw it. It is the plan of salvation–the agency, the opposition in all things. It was done beautifully!

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