As Ghodsee argues in Everyday Utopia: What 2,000 Years of Wild Experiments Can Teach Us About the Good Life, these books serve as a warning to searching young minds. In The Giver, a gripping nightmare of a young adult novel (and a Newberry Award winner, which when I was a kid, we learned to recognize as a flag that the book would be a relentless bummer), love is forbidden and babies who are too small or don’t develop perfectly are euthanized, as are the old. In 1984, as in The Giver, children are taken from their mothers at birth. In Brave New World, children are raised collectively in dormitories.
All three books depict societies that have reimagined the nuclear family with horrifying results. “American youth are sometimes taught all three books in quick succession — a veritable smorgasbord of anti-utopianism,” Ghodsee observes. “The message of these books is loud and clear: you may be unhappy with the way things are but forget about trying to change them.”