Thursday, June 30, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without love ... a world where you never experience the ridiculous symptoms of euphoria or thought preoccupation of that first love, or the physical and emotional heartache of lost love?  However, it is also a world where you do not experience even the parental instinct to laugh and love when you look at your own children.  You receive a cure to release all love from your body and the choices in life are simply a list provided to you for potential mates and a government assignment of your life-long occupation.  Oliver attempts to tackle this very world in her young adult novel, Delirium.

When we first begin Oliver's story, we are introduced to Lena, a teenage girl only months away from receiving her cure.  The cure is what removes her capability to love and opens up her life to a whole new possibility.  However, she becomes infected with this disease called love, and it sends her world whirling around her, allowing secrets to be revealed and truths to be uncovered about what this so-called happy life is really like.  What can a world without love be but one filled with fear?

The concept of this book alone fascinated me.  It made me begin to think about the role and importance of love in our current lives.  Love motivates us to move on.  It keeps us from feeling hopeless and helpless and not alone.  Love puts a smile on our faces and fills our hearts with unimaginable strength.  It drives us to be better people.  It drives us to reproduce.  Love is what allows the human race to survive.

The focus of the book was about a first love.  It was a thought provoking read.  However, a small re-occurring detail is what hit a chord most with me ... the lack of parental love for the children in this world.  Lena's memories of her mother include dancing, laughing, giggling, playing ... but all within hiding.  It is not seen as acceptable to do these things with your children.  It is a sign of infection!

As I was reading this book, it actually took me back to my college years and the well-known attachment study by Harry Harlow.  Harlow separated rhesus monkeys from their mothers and paired them with a wire "mother" and another "mother" wrapped in terry cloth.  The experiment was revolutionary during its time, proving the importance of a physical bond between parent and child, not just the meeting of a basic need.  (For more information on the study, you can click here for more details on the theory and experiments.)  I found myself pausing in my reading, thinking to myself about the effects on the children having the lack of love in their home environment.  I pondered what made Lena special and realized it was the love provided by her mother.  Her mother's love allowed Lena strength to find the truth of her world and helped her to open her eyes to the possibility far before she was truly "infected" with her first love.

I truly could go on and on about this book.  It is more than just a good story.  You are not just left wondering what Lena will do next.  It takes you much farther than that.  It is a story that makes you think.  It makes you think about what you love, what you would do for love, what would happen without it.  It brings out the importance of one four-letter word.  Who knew such a harmless word on paper could have such a profound effect in life.

Delirium was a Tales to Tomes pick for June 2011.  Did you read it?  What were your thoughts?  


  1. I really, really need to start reading this one, as I've seen nothing but great reviews and Lauren is an awesome writer!

  2. Alexia561 ... You certainly do! I'm still thinking about the book and I finished it weeks ago!


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