Jonas lives a peaceful and orderly life in his community. Residents are assigned a spouse, they apply for children (one boy and one girl) and when they turn 12, they assigned the job that they will carry for the rest of their life in the community. All of these decisions are made by a committee of elders. During the much-anticipated ceremony of the 12s, all of the children turning 12 in the community are given their assigned future professions. Jonas receives an assignment that is rare and unique. He is chosen as The Receiver and his role will be to receive all the memories of pleasure and pain that are held by the Giver. Once Jonas realizes the truth that has been contained from the rest of the community, he faces some serious decisions about his future.
I never read this book as a child, and I really wish I hadn’t waited so long to pick up a copy. The Giver is a haunting tale set in an undisclosed time. As a book aimed at children, Lowry hit all the right notes of eerie, raising all sorts of questions about right & wrong in society. I think adults reading this book will be disappointed, expecting more depth. There were a few areas where Lowry could have expanded, namely with Jonas’ family and friends. They came across as vague and two-dimensional. Then again, maybe that was Lowry’s intent, to highlight the changes in Jonas before and after his time with The Giver.
Kids who enjoyed this book will probably go on to enjoy books like The Hunger Games, The Uglies, Brave New World, Farenheit 451, etc. The Giver also has two companion books: Gathering Blue & The Messenger.