Friday, January 4, 2008

giving the giver

(If you didn't read yesterday's post, which is sort of the first half of this one, you can find it here.)

It was before the movie Pay it Forward (or before I saw it, at least), but that's what I did.

About a week after Sally finished reading The Giver to me, I went out to find a copy for myself. Even though I was a poor college student (aren't all college students poor?) I bought the hardcover, because I already knew it was a book I was going to read over and over.

I wanted to read it again, but not by myself. So...a few months later, I cornered my mom.

"I'm going to read you a story."

She was a bit baffled, but she agreed to listen. As Sally did for me, I told her nothing at all about the book. I just told her she had to trust me.

Mom was hooked just like I was. She had many of the same entranced/amazed/horrified reactions I did. She wouldn't let me stop; I spent an entire afternoon reading to her, reading until the end.

And she wanted more, too. And, in a way, I could give her more. The first companion book, Gathering Blue, had just been released. To clarify, Gathering Blue isn't really a sequel. It deals with similar themes in a different setting. I love it, though. At the beginning of the story the heroine, Kira, has just lost her mother and is left an orphan. Kira has a bad leg, and in her society she is considered worthless, and no one wants her around. But someone sees that Kira is special...

I honestly don't remember if I read Gathering Blue to Mom or if she read it herself (and I can't find the journals that hold the answer). But I remember talking with her afterward, comparing the two books, comparing Kira and Jonas, comparing the primitive society of Kira to the structured and controlled society of Jonas.

Fast forward about a year, to autumn 2001. A dear friend of mine, Mamma Lo*, was in the hospital (again, she had been in and out of the hospital since she had a big portion of her colon removed in the spring of 1998). I don't remember what the specific issue was that time, but it had something to do with her ulcerative colitis/chron's disease. I temporarily moved back to Mom and Dad's house so I could be near the hospital, and I spent every day with her for...well, it was at least a week. I think it was closer to two.

After a few days of boredom (it's just about always boring in a hospital; you can only play speed so many times...) I had an idea. I went to the bookstore and bought a copy guessed it...The Giver.

We read for four or five days; it was tough to find time when she wasn't sleeping or there weren't other visitors. Every day, when I arrived in her room, she told me how hard it was to not look ahead in the book (was it horribly mean of me to leave it in her room?). When we finished, with smiles and sighs, I handed the book to her. Inside I had written something to the effect of "Never forget how wonderful it is to be you."

I am struck by different things every time I read the book, but one thing that always stands out is the importance of being who you are instead of who other people tell you to be. And since that day in the hospital, I've taken to keeping at least one extra copy of The Giver around. Whenever I think a friend needs a pick-me-up, I give it to them. I always put a homemade book cover on it, and ask the recipient to refrain from reading the blurb on the back..."just trust me." Unless someone lied, no one has been disappointed.

I introduced Rose Daughter to The Giver too. And Gathering Blue. And when Messenger (the third book in the trilogy, which sort of ties the first two books together but is about a new hero, Matty) was released in 2004 I read it to her on a road trip from Michigan to Texas (A l-o-n-g trip, with a small child, a dog, and a cat in tow!).

And someday, when he's a bit older, I'll share these books with the Little Mister, too. Read out loud, of course.

* * * * * * * * *

Next Thursday, January 10, has been declared Day to Read by Soccer Mom in Denial. I think this is a fantastic idea. She says:

I'm asking folks, myself included, to take time one day in January to stop blogging - for the entire day or part of the day - and use the blogging time to read. A book. A magazine. A newspaper. ... mark Thursday, January 10, 2008 as Day to Read. Then on Friday, January 11th, write a bit about what you read.

I've been wanting to blog about this for awhile...but there were holidays and surgeries and teething any rate, here I am now, asking you to think about turning your computer off for a day. Or even part of a day. I know I for one spend quite a bit of time either blogging or reading blogs. So next Thursday I'm going to put my computer away. (I'm going to try to convince the Sergeant to turn his off too, to just hang out with us! Do you think it'll work??) And when the Little Mister is sleeping, or playing on his own, I'm going to read The Giver. (Are you shocked?) And when he's awake, we'll read Great Day for Up and The Belly Button Book and There's a Wocket in my Pocket, among others. :)

And, of course, Goodnight Moon before bed.

*We've known each other since sixth grade and been close friends since eighth. At some point in high school I started calling her Mamma. Who knows why we do the things we do in high school...


  1. The movie "The Village" reminds me of the Giver as well...

  2. How lovely for you to pay it forward, both to your mom and to a friend in need.

    And next Thursday is a date!! :)


  3. I think the idea of next Thursday is great, and it will give everyone something to write about on Friday! I'm in!

  4. Dawn: There is another book (Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix) that is also very very similar to The Village... (no monsters, but the book is almost creepier because of what is really going on.)

  5. And I'm glad other people are on board with Day To Read too!! :)

  6. I totally want to read The Giver to someone now!! lol

  7. you loaned me this book (and the other loi lowry books)- perhaps when I was evacuated at your house? Or had I read the giver before that, and then the others then? anyhow... they are all fantastic. but i have to say that now I am a wee bit sad that you didn't READ them to me. ;)

  8. I've never heard of The Giver... I think I'm going to have to look into it. :-)

  9. I love that you took time to read this book out loud to your mother and to your friend - that alone is a truly special memory. And - I will look into these books as they sound wonderful. Have a good weekend. Kellan

  10. January 10 sounds fabulous. I am trying to figure out if I can pull it as a personal day at work and just spend the day on the couch with a good book and the cat...

  11. Wow! You've totally sold me on this book. I am definitely going to read it.

  12. These were wonderful stories. I love to read about people's relationships and histories with books.

    I've also loved The Giver, but haven't experienced it read aloud. I'll give it a go some day, perhaps when my daughter is old enough. I also have yet to read the related books, though I have read other Lois Lowry books.

  13. I love this idea - and you've inspired me to read this book. This is lovely -- I love how this reveals the relationship you have with your Mom.

  14. HI,
    I have never read that book, or heard of it, but you make me want to run out and buy I think I will! :)

  15. You've definitely made me feel that I *have* to read The Giver. Like, immediately.

  16. I am just now tuning in because I HAVE BEEN READING! (And unsuccessfully potty training a toddler!)(And trying to recover from a trip!)
    I want to join in and see what everyone else read, too!