By Lois Lowery
After reading it this time, I had such a different response to it. I still found it incredibly interesting, but I hadn’t previously realized exactly what being “released” meant, the idea that maybe Jonas dies at the end or the extremely controversial society. While this book would bring up so many controversial topic, such as suicide, pre-determined lives, extreme micro-management by a select group of individuals, lying, death, the power of choice, history etc… it would be so beneficial to young students to be exposed to this alternate way of life. I think it would make students really appreciate having the power to choose their own destinies.
This would be a great book to relate to social studies, I think, because of the different historical societies you could relate it to. I know as a young student, I read about our culture here in the United States (pulling teeth, having surgery, riding bicycles etc…) from an outside perspective and I remember thinking it was so strange- not making the connection that it was a description of my own culture and my way of life. I think that it would really help students see other ways of life and other cultures in a more meaningful way, and in a more accepting way. And building this cultural competency is very important in today’s society. There are just so many different directions you could go with this book, the list of topics that come to mind seems almost endless.
And I have to give my opinion on the ending: I personally think that Jonas and Gabe don’t die, that they eventually find Elsewhere and that it is a fulfilling world full of choice and happiness, that is just the optimist in me. I have read the sequel to the book, and while it has nothing to do with Jonas or any of the original characters, I highly recommend it!