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 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.
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.