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Background Info

Author Bio

Full Name: Lois Ann Lowry

Pen Name: Lowis Lowry

Date of Birth: March 20, 1937

Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii

Brief Life Story: Lois Lowry was born Lois Ann Hammersburg, the second of three children. After moving with her family to New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan, she attended high school in Staten Island, New York and in 1954 began college at Brown. At age 19, Lowry left Brown to marry Donald Lowry, a U.S. Navy officer. After having four children, she eventually completed her B.A. in English at the University of Maine in 1972. During her studies she was introduced to photography, which became a life-long hobby and profession. When an editor at Houghton Mifflin read an article Lowry had written for Redbook to accompany some of her photos, she encouraged Lowry to write a children's book, and A Summer to Die was published in 1977. Lowry and her husband divorced that same year, and she began to write full-time. She has published numerous books, including her most famous, The Giver, in 1993.

Key Facts

Full Title: The Giver

Genre: Dystopian novel

Setting: A managed community in a futuristic society. The community is cut off from the outside world, which is referred to as "elsewhere."

Climax: Jonas learns that when his father "releases" newchildren, he actually kills them. Jonas decides to leave the community.

Antagonist: Jonas's community and its system of Sameness

Point of View: Third-person limited, through Jonas's eyes

Historical and Literary Context

When Written: Early 1990s

Where Written: Maine

When Published: April 16, 1993

Literary Period: Contemporary

Related Literary Works: In the genre of the Utopian novel, which gets its name from Sir Thomas More's 1516 book Utopia, an author describes an ideal society in order to criticize his own society. In a Dystopian novel, an author imagines the worst possible society as a way to criticize their current world. The Giver is a dystopian novel that imagines a future community whose citizens have sacrificed free choice, individuality, and true emotion for stability. The Giver resembles Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a satirical novel also about a society in which the citizens have given up their freedom for the guarantee of happiness. The loudspeakers that serve as the voice of authority in the community and the surveillance of citizens by the committee of elders in The Giver are reminiscent of Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984.

Related Historical Events: Lowry wrote The Giver during the period of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, when Serbian forces attempted to rid the country of Muslims. At the same time, a debate was raging in the U.S. over the practice of euthanasia by Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Lowry's novel explores each of these developments in its treatment of outsiders, intolerance, societal perfection, and physician-assisted suicide.

Extra Credit

Awards: The Giver won the 1994 Newbery Medal, considered the most prestigious award for children's literature.

Banned Book: Although The Giver tops countless school reading lists, it has also been banned by some schools, which claim that some of the material, like euthanasia and suicide, is inappropriate for children.

One of Three: Lowry has written two more books set in the world of The Giver and including some of the characters from The Giver. The three books together are often described as a "loose trilogy." The second book in the series is Gathering Blue and was published in 2000. The third, The Messenger, was published in 2004.


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