The Giver

Tonight I finished reading The Giver by Lois Lowry for the first time. I know this book was on school reading lists when I was in elementary school, but I never remember reading it. Given the recent movie that’s come out about it, I thought it would be a good time to give it a go.

the-giver-movie-trailerIt’s a brilliant concept, especially when you remember Lowry wrote it in 1993, before the new millennium even. The premise is that life in Jonas’s community is perfect. (read: controlled). Rules govern everything. There is a Council of Elders who decide on the rules & make decisions for the whole community. Who your match will be. Who your children will be, and you only get 1 boy and 1 girl. What you do with your time. How often, how much, and when you eat. A society where everyone blends in. A community made up of Nurturers and Labourers and Birthmothers and Doctors and Engineers and Instructors and so on.

And one Receiver.

The Receiver is the only person in the community who knows of life before and beyond Jonas’s community. This person is the only person is a Receiver of Memories, who has memories of something outside their community of Sameness. The Receiver is given the “honour” of holding all the memories for the entire community—joyful ones and tragic ones; beautiful ones and brutal ones. Memories of colour, family, love, sunshine, snow, broken bones, hunger, poverty, loss, neglect, warfare. The community doesn’t want to feel real feelings. Because they don’t want to feel pain, they also protect themselves from feeling love & joy & delight. But they know someone has to remember what this is like, to ask for his counsel from time to time. Hence the Receiver. The lonely Receiver.

The event that launches the book’s plot is the Ceremony of Twelves in December where Jonas, along with all the other Elevens-turning-Twelves, receives his Assignment about his job in the community. His was a rare appointment.

Jonas is selected as the next Receiver. The current Receiver (called The Giver) transfers his memories to Jonas, and now Jonas carries them. What does he do with them, with his newfound knowledge? That’s why you have to read the book!

It’s a beautiful story, so poignant with similarities to our world. And written so simply and accessibly. It was definitely a page-turner, and even at the very end, I was wanting more. I was wanting to find out what happens to the community. That’s where I wish we could have a third-person omniscient narrator. But I also like that we’re left to imagine it. The worst are books that give too much away in their conclusions.

I’ve watched the trailer for the film but don’t know if I’ll see the movie. Now after reading it, I can already tell the movie veers quite substantially from the original. Jonas & Fiona are seen kissing & having a much more intimate relationship than they do in the book. The daily injections come in the form of pills, and Jonas never counsels Fiona to skip one. And Jonas doesn’t tell anyone about his training as the Receiver, or what he’s learned of life beyond.

I wonder if the screenwriter added these scenes to make it more exciting, more plot-driven, more filmable? It’s interesting to consider Lowry’s words in the prologue, reflecting on 20 years since its publication:

If I had written The Giver this year, there would have been no gulp. Maybe a yawn, at most. Ho-hum. In so many recent dystopian novels (and there are exactly that: so many), societies battle and characters die hideously and whole civilizations crumble. None of that in The Giver. It was introspective. Quiet. Short on Action.

“Introspective, quiet, and short on action” translates to “tough to film.” Katniss Everdeen gets to kill off countless adolescent competitors in various ways during The Hunger Games; that’s exciting movie fare. It sells popcorn. Jonas, riding a bike and musing about his future? Not so much. Although the film rights to The Giver were snapped up early on, it moved forward in spurts and stops for years, as screenplay after screenplay–none of them by me–was commissioned, written, and discarded.

Despite the all-star cast including Jeff Bridges & Meryl Streep, the movie didn’t do well at the box office. Maybe if it had stuck closer to the original script, more The Giver fans would have given it a shot? What are your thoughts?

 

A Walk in the Gardens

I work in Surrey now, and when the weather’s cooperating (which hasn’t been too often), I like to eat lunch outside and explore my new surroundings.

Here’s what I encountered when I walked through Bear Creek Gardens the other day, on the afternoon of the Bear Creek Park Garden Light Festival.

I spied with my little eye a chapel in the woods.

Chapel in the Woods 1

I went closer to see if it was really what I thought it was. Indeed.

IMG_0631I would love to go to church in the woods!

IMG_0635 - Version 2My walking then led me to this labyrinth of paper cups filled with dirt (I’m guessing so they wouldn’t blow away). I wonder what they were used for.

IMG_0637IMG_0638IMG_0640A lot of the tree decorations were shielded from the elements.

IMG_0641The colour of these autumn trees, combined with the Japanese ornaments, was absolutely stunning.

IMG_0645IMG_0647IMG_0654IMG_0657IMG_0658IMG_0655So many hidden treasures in these gardens, including this pink bicycle.IMG_0663It would have been beautiful to see these decorations all lit up at night. Perhaps it looked something like this:

starry_light_festival

The Results Are In!

Well, readers . . . we did it!

Tonight, the news landed in my inbox that my story, “Living Bigger, Looking Closer” won 2nd place and $500 in a local Vancouver writing contest! I am thrilled and so thankful for all your help in voting for my story over these past 2 months. It’s been quite the wait to see how it would all turn out, and this is a terrific ending to the story.

Thank you for being a BIG part of this process. It’s been really wonderful to share it with you.

And while I’m giving you an update about the contest, I’ll also mention that for those of you wondering if the We Make Stuff book my boyfriend is featured in will be going to press, YES! The final dollars came in at the eleventh hour. Thanks to all of you who contributed to that as well. You can check out a behind-the-scenes video of the book being printed at the printers from their website (and order your copy if you haven’t yet!)

So as you can probably imagine, it’s been a great couple weeks for the two of us with our creative pursuits.

Now I find myself asking, “What will I write next?”

My Vancouver

Vancouver, my muse

 

 

A Poem for Peggy’s Cove

Evening drive to Peggy’s Cove. Bright green houses and Adriondack chairs. Picture by the water before the sun says goodnight. Watch light disappear, fall in love with the way ocean splashes rock splashes me. Get lost in rugged mist of east coast bliss. Where there is beauty, there is danger. My friends and I, precariously close to the edge. Always sitting by the edge. How much we know each other by our silhouettes. Black against oranges, pinks, and blues, there’s something about these summer hues. Hot tea in thermos, sipping warmth, wiggling our toes. Hair all over the place. Let it fly with the wind. Let me be still and feel everything.

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Story Update: Keep Voting!

Dear readers,

This is a quick update to let you know the status of the story I submitted to a local Vancouver writing contest that I posted in early September. The good news: I made it into the top 10 thanks to your votes! I know some of you have been tremendously faithful in voting for it every day. Like, literally every day. That means a lot!

So the voting isn’t over yet though. The semifinalists have until Oct 30 to get more votes for our stories, and then the top 3 will be revealed. I hope your stamina for voting isn’t exhausted yet . . . just another 2 weeks, we can do this!

Here’s the new link to my story where you can vote for it once a day.

You guys are the best!
~Charlene

We Make Stuff

The artist’s vocation is to send light into the human heart. – Robert Schumann

We Make Stuff Vol. 2 compiles 100 artists working in Vancouver and celebrates what they make. Celebrates the vocation of the artist—a vocation often misunderstood and under-appreciated. There are painters and chefs, breakdancers and filmmakers. Musicians and poets, social entrepreneurs and swimsuit designers. They’re your friends, your family, your coworkers, your bosses. And they show us that there are so many ways to make something beautiful and meaningful in the world because our culture needs that. You and I need that.

An example of the beautiful two-page spread for each artist. This artist is my coworker whose art hangs in the Vancouver Public Library!

An example of the beautiful two-page spread for each artist. This artist is my coworker whose designs are hanging in the Vancouver Public Library for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

My artist-boyfriend is also in the book, and I know I am rather partial but I do think he makes beautiful paintings. This book is a great way for him, and 99 others, to share their art with a wider audience. To spotlight the artistic vocation. To join with others who are making stuff and to inspire others to look at our world in new, fresh, and hopeful ways.

But making a full colour coffee table-style book isn’t cheap. They need to raise $38 000 by Oct 15 for the book to even go to print.

There’s only 3 days left of their crowdfunding campaign and they still have $14 000 to raise. Will you consider giving to this project so that these 100 stories can come to life? The soft-cover edition is only $35. It also makes a great Christmas present for your art-loving friends & family! (Note: If they don’t raise the minimum $38 000 by Oct 15, the book will not go to print and you’ll be refunded for your contribution).

Let’s send some light into the human heart! Contribute here.