Thank you for not ruining The Giver

On Sunday, I treated myself to a trip to the movies. It was a nice way to relax after running the 10 Miler on Saturday. I’m honestly not usually one for going to the movies. It seems like a rip-off to pay so much to sit there and do nothing. Then pay even more for snacks. ($4 for a junior popcorn, people! A junior popcorn!) But since it is something that I usually deny myself, it feels very decadent on the rare occasion that I shell out the dough. The movie of choice: The Giver!

the giver

The book is one of my all-time favorites. By the time I read it in Mrs. Armstrong’s reading class in middle school, I was already a reader. I grew up in a house rich with literature. Both my brothers and I had bookshelves maxed out with novels. My parents subscribed to Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, and The Dallas Morning News. When I had read everything at my disposal, it wasn’t uncommon to find me reading the backs of cereal boxes. I like to imagine the doctor’s wiping amniotic fluid from my eyes at birth and handing me a book. ;) I’ve always been a reader! But reading The Giver was different.

Before that, I was reading American Girl books. I would never knock those -they are still awesome- but things are easy for the American Girls. Sure, they deal with some tough stuff. (Hello, Felicity’s family is in the middle of the Revolutionary war and Addy’s parents were slaves!) Still, they are written for a younger audience, so things typically work out for our protagonists a la 30 minute TV shows like The Brady Bunch.

Jonas, the main character in The Giver, however, experiences a loss of innocence. As the reader, I experienced that right alongside him. Discovering the truth about his family, about his community, I remember gasping out loud when I realized what was going on. It changed Jonas, and in some ways, I felt like it changed me, too. Not only that, but the way Lois Lowry slowly reveals the story in layers totally hooked me. I only wanted to read more, discover more after reading this book.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Naturally, I assumed the movie would be shit.

Let’s be real, movies very rarely live up to the standard set by the book. I get it, movies are a different art form. I can’t expect the emotions woven throughout hundreds of pages of a novel to be expressed as fully on screen. Still, the temptation of seeing a beloved story come to life got to me, and I hoped that the movie would at least come close in this case.

I’m happy to report that it was pretty, pretty good. The movie doesn’t follow the book exactly, but that’s okay. (They needed to make things a little splashier and more dramatic to stand up against current YA dystopian tales. I get it.) The meat of the story is still there along with Jonas’s painful realizations and loss of innocence. I must be a glutton for punishment because I love that part, when all is revealed. Even better, there were some people in the movie theater talking, and hearing them realize what was happening at the big “a-ha” moment made me so happy.

Here’s what you need to know: The Giver is awesome. The movie is pretty good, but the book is even better. Do yourself a favor and read it. If you can’t do that, okay, go see the movie. (If you want some extended reading, Lois Lowry’s Newbery Acceptance speech is pretty badass.)

What movies do y’all think are as good as (or close) to the books? What books made you love reading? The Devil’s Arithmetic was another that punched me in the gut (in a good way) when I got to the ending.

21 thoughts on “Thank you for not ruining The Giver

  1. SO glad to hear the movie was good. Tyler and I go to the movies a lot (we skip the snacks though- you’re right- expensive!). I’ve absolutely loved the book since middle school and have been curious to see how good the film would be. I may have to treat myself to it on my day off today!

    • You should definitely treat yourself to a movie! I saw Hunger Games (the first one) solo the last time Stephen was deployed and it majorly depressed me. The Giver has more sweetness to it.

  2. I saw the interview on Charlie Rose last night with the author, Beau Bridges(?), the director and the guy who plays the main character. It looks like an interesting movie. Beau said he spent 18 years trying to get the movie made. Originally he planned to have his Dad play The Giver.
    The book is both taught in school and banned by some groups. Must be good.

    • The Giver was written in 1993 (I believe) and I’m shocked it took so long for such a quality, beloved book to be made into a movie. Maybe it’s because dystopian stories are so popular right now that it finally came together? It’s definitely not as flashy as something like Hunger Games, but it is so beautifully crafted. I’ve never understood why people would want to ban it. Of course, I don’t understand why people try to ban any book.

      • Hi, the author said there were a few scenes that got conservative groups wound up. Imagine that! One she mentioned was when the kid is bathing an elderly lady. She jokingly said that she had hoped to have a cameo role for that part!
        Have a great weekend. Off to Wordcamp Boston. Should be interesting.
        Cheers – Andy

  3. I have been curious to hear how the movie is, I am so glad that it has lived up to the book. I may treat myself and go since Kyle really isn’t a fan of going.

  4. I saw ‘The English Patient’ first and loved it, but the book was SO much better!

    Glad you liked ‘The Giver’ — my mom taught it all those years as a middle-school teacher and feels a very strong attachment to the book!

    • I can see why teachers love it. It’s timeless! I don’t do novel studies in my teaching, but if I did, I’d have to teach Lois Lowry. I think she’s a genius.

  5. I always expect the movie to be not as good as the the book knowing that you just can’t get all the rich detail and nuance onto the big screen in 2 hours. For me it’s all about the cast – if they get that right I usually enjoy the movie version. Hopefully I can talk Chris into seeing “The Giver” this weekend – I sat through “Guardians of the Galaxy” on Saturday so I’m pretty sure its my turn to pick!

    • Casting is key! People were upset about some of the casting in this case because the main character in the book has light colored eyes. While, this actor has brown eyes. That didn’t bother me though. It helped that I went in with low expectations. I was able to enjoy the movie for what it is – a movie.

  6. May all the Tex-Mex and chips & salsa gods bless you for the title of this post. As it is, I held my breath and read this post as quickly as I could. Talk about anxiety!

    You already know The Giver is in my top three favorite books of all time. I’ve been wanting to read it with J-slice for well over a year so I guess I should finally get on that, eh?!

    I’m with your mom – I just assume the movie will not be as good as the book. One that stacked up? The Lucky One. Might be because Zac Efron is a hot hunk of man though.

    In case you’re wondering, my two other favorites are The Perks of Being a Wallflower (pretty sure you knew that too) and Veronika Decides to Die.

    Did you read The Giver on your own? And you picked up on all the little nuances?? I’m curious to see how the movie deals with those (like which words are capitalized and why).

    • How did I not realize that you love The Giver as much as I do?! It’s the best. I think J-Slice is probably ready. I was about his age when I read it. I’m excited to re-read it now to revisit the place it takes me to and to see what else I discover.

      I think we had something equivalent to AR/Accelerated Reader back then. Do y’all have that? Kids pick their own books and take pre-made quizzes over them. Then you get points based on the length and difficulty (or something along those lines) of the book. So someone who reads more difficult, longer books doesn’t have to read as many as someone who’s at a lower reading level to earn the same points. The points get translated into a grade. Or something. So I read the book on my own. I’m sure much of it was over my head. (Like, I didn’t even realize the parallels to communism – obviously, since what 7th grader knows about communism, right?) But the part where Jonas discovers what being released means?! And seeing his dad with the twin?! OMG. Brain explosion.

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever read The Giver…Or if I did, it was during my “read it as quickly as possible so I can get it over with and do the homework” period of school. Based on your review, I think I need to pick it up and then see the movie when I’m done reading.

    I’m not much of a movie theater person, because it is SO expensive! I recently found a super cheap theater ($1.50) that has not too old titles and is a really nice theater with reclining seats. When I’m paying less than $2 for a movie, I can splurge on that junior popcorn (and sneak in my own candy, of course).

    • Steph, get thee to a book store and read The Giver stat! It’s a must! Of course, I know some people who’ve just gotten around to reading it now are all ‘eh.’ It’s not as flashy as something like Hunger Games and the audience is young kids and there’s so much hype around it. Still, I love it and can’t suggest it strongly enough.

  8. Oh wow, I didn’t even realize they had made a movie! How cool!! Do they still teach this book in school? I always loved it and it seems like EVERYONE around our age group had to read it for school back in the day.

    • At the school I used to work at, the 8th grade English teachers were still teaching it as recently as 2011-ish, I think. The students really liked it. Of course, I’m sometimes amazed by what they like. For instance, they also do a unit on The Outsiders. I would figure kids would hate that, but they don’t.

  9. So glad to hear the movie is good! I also grew up in a family of readers, and this was one of my favorites. I only found out about a week ago that there was a movie coming out of it! Can’t wait to see it.

    • It’s a very good movie. It doesn’t follow every single little thing from the book, but I feel like it was a better adaptation than say The Fault In Our Stars. I thought that movie was so blah. I know John Green said he wanted the movie to be true to the spirit of that book, which it was, but they also changed so, so much. The characters didn’t really feel in love the way they do in the book. How can you have a love story with no love! I digress, apologies. I feel strongly about this stuff, haha!

  10. Oooh, I am intrigued. In general, it always seems that the book is better than the movie. So it’s always nice to hear when the movie is good! I am very curious now to learn the plot details on The Giver. I may need to check this book out the next time I go to the library.

    Completely agree with you on movies in general being so expensive. I don’t have a lot of patience for movies in general. But if I did go to a theater I would definitely sneak in some of my own snacks. =)

    • It’s a quick read and so well crafted, definitely seek out the book.

      I’m usually a snack sneaker (and I even took in a bag of chips this day!) but sometimes I find that I am weak against the smells of movie snacks!

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