Douglas James Troxell
Books That Changed My Life: The Giver
Every great writer needs to be a reader first.
When talking to most writers, there's usually one book that shoves them toward a life of words and spinning tales. For me, that book was The Giver by Lois Lowry.
I read The Giver in fourth grade. I was finished with a project for class early and just needed something to do to pass the time. The back of the book sounded interesting so I snatched it and dove in. I didn't know it at the time, but that moment, that choice, would affect the rest of my life.
The Giver tells the story of a young boy named Jonas who lives in a dystopian society (this was before dystopian literature was a thing) where everything is controlled and all emotions have been eliminated, which is great because there's no longer any fear or anger or even pain but not so great because there's no joy or love (or even colors). All the memories of the past have been erased and are carried by a village elder (The Giver) who chooses a successor (The Receiver) to carry the memories for the entire society.
At this time in my young reading life I was dining on a steady diet of Goosebumps and other garbage horror stories. They were entertaining but very forgettable. The Giver was different. It was deep. It explored questions of euthanasia, the power of the individual, and the sacrifices we make for the "good" of society. It made me think and feel and the ending...amazing (although the later books in the series would totally erase the epic greatness of the ending in the quest for more money).
It was the first time I remember reading a book that changed the way I saw the world and after that I knew the truth: Books contained the secrets of the Universe. All you had to do was open the book and allow the Fates to whisper in your ear.
And who wouldn't want to be part of that conversation?