Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Banned Books Week! What are you reading?

Did you know it's Banned Books Week? Well, if you didn't now you do. (You're welcome.)

This morning I started Lois Lowry's THE GIVER. This is one of those YA classics that's always been at the bottom of the To-Read list, but for some reason it never drew me to it. The cover was not particularly fascinating (an old man's face), and if I did read the back-cover description it was vague enough that it didn't grab me. But as I was loading up my MP3 player with audio books, I saw this title, and added it to the list.

I have a nice 30-minute commute to work, which is good, but this morning it still wasn't long enough. I didn't want to get out of the car, even though I was already late for work (I had to drop Indy off at the vet again this morning. Yes, AGAIN. That cat will be the death bankruptcy of me).

(WARNING: potential spoilers ahead)

The story takes place in a world where people live in communities and if they do something bad, or get too old, or don't fit in, they are "released." (At first I took that literally, that they were banned from the community and had to fend for themselves out in the probably post-apocalyptic wild, but then the penny dropped and I realized "released" was a euphemism.)

Spouses and children are assigned; one male and one female child per family unit. Regardless of when you are born, you "graduate" to the next age in December, with everyone else born in your same year. The Rules dictate at what age you can learn to ride a bike (when you become "a nine"), and, when you become "a twelve," the Elders decide what your job will be.

One of these jobs is "nurturer." These are the people who take care of the children from birth until that December, when they are assigned to a family. Of course I wondered where the babies came from... Were they all conceived in vitro? Did they have slave women, trapped in a dungeon somewhere, who were constantly artificially inseminated to populate the community?

What made it so hard to get out of the car this morning was that just as I turned into the campus's parking lot, Jonas's little sister Lilly mentions that the baby Father has brought home from his nurturer job (the baby's having trouble sleeping through the night, and he wants to take care of the baby at home overnight to see if that helps -- otherwise the baby will have to be "released") has light eyes, just like Jonas. Jonas only knows one other person, besides this new baby, who has light-colored eyes like him; Lilly says, "Maybe he has your same birth mother."

Aha! So it's not in vitro grown in test tubes, like Brave New World babies were. Who are these birth mothers? Where are they? Do they live in the community, or are they hidden from view, because pregnancy is dirty (the result of Cardinal Sin)?

I have to wait until 5:00 to find out...


  1. Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? Sort of similar, but it's the women who are all given roles and one of them is the birthers-- women that come into a home, and the husbands have sex with them (the wife gets to just ignore this) to impregnate them, then the babies are born and go to the husband and his wife to raise and the birth mothers goes to a new family to do it all over again.

  2. Oh, that is one of my favourite books ever. Have fun with reading the rest!

  3. I read The Handmaiden's Tale in high school, when I was so not ready to get it. I need to read it again, and also more of Margaret Atwood's stuff.