On the Page: Assigned Reading (Part Two)
Just in time for Spring Break, the team at LMPR is pleased to share On the Page: Assigned Reading (Part Two).
This week we discuss two novels that explore dystopian futures and a novel that takes us through the courageous life of a woman in the Australian Outback.
Hanah Van Borek – The Giver by Lois Lowry
In this dystopian story, the world is black and white and everyone’s life has been planned out, unless they’re born to be a “receiver”, someone with a special gift to transmit memories psychically from the elder “giver” of the community. These emotional visions in technicolor evoke joy, sadness, pain and fear, all emotions naturally felt by the average person, but not the citizens of this robotic-like realm.
Among its major themes, the book examines the importance of agency, critical thinking, the collective memory and discourse – all big ideas for a nine year old to digest. Nonetheless, my peers and I returned to school completed fixated on these concepts from a fundamental level and it’s most likely because of our desire to question the rules.
Sophie Gardner – My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
This 1901 novel has been an Australian school list staple for decades – but it is the gumption and wit of its protagonist, Sybylla Melvyn, who “makes no apologies for being egotistical” makes me certain that today, she’d be hosting a wickedly popular YouTube series.
Keeping herself amused amid turn-of-the-century Outback drudgery and her exasperated family, who wish she would just settle down, she refuses to let her gender define her. She stoically turns down many a marriage proposal to pursue her true love of writing, in an era when this was widely frowned upon.
Miles Franklin’s vivid descriptions conjure the smell of the gum leaves, the breathtaking beauty of the landscapes and above all the relentless, searing heat. I also love the film, which features a very young Judy Davis and Sam Neill!
Julia Gabriel – 1984 by George Orwell
Despite being an avid bookworm, required reading never sparked my interest until ‘1984’ by George Orwell was assigned to my grade 12 English class. Though at first I was disinterested, it wasn’t until I wrote a test on the novel that I realized how riveting this book was.
Set in a heavily oppressed nation ruled by the omnipresent Big Brother, a leader intent on eliminating individuality, ‘1984’ follows the thoughtless life of Winston Smith.
Restricted from actions that had potential to create rebellion, citizens were slowly being brainwashed, and it isn’t until meeting the lustrous Julia that Winston attempts to break free. ‘1984’ introduced me to a darker and more thoughtful side of literacy, which I have carried with me since.