First sentence: It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.
Reflections: Jonas is a 12-year-old boy who lives happily with his parents and sister. He goes to school and plays with his friends, just like kids everywhere. But Jonas' world is unique in many respects. Correct word usage is of utmost importance. Families are made up of two parents, and two children -- always a boy and girl. All children experience their birthday the same day in December, through an elaborate community ceremony. When children turn 12, they are assigned their adult job during the ceremony. And the year that Jonas turns 12, he is assigned a very special role: that of The Receiver, the single member of the community who harbors all the memories of humankind.
Training for The Receiver role requires Jonas to spend time with the current Receiver, whom he now calls The Giver. The Giver is very old, and must transfer all memories to Jonas before he can be released from his responsiblities, and from the community. His gifts to Jonas are unique and special -- memories of snow and colors, for example -- and sometimes the memories are painful, such as war and death. The memories, and the deep feelings associated with them, have long been eradicated from the rest of the community in an attempt to create "sameness" among all people, and therefore harmony. Jonas and The Giver devise a plan to bring those memories back and enrich the lives of others. In carrying out this plan, Jonas himself becomes a true Giver himself.
This book packs quite a punch compared to most young adult literature. Would "sameness" really bring harmony and peace to our world? Or would it bring the emptiness pervading Jonas' community? Should we not then celebrate the differences in our world, rather than fight over them? This powerful, thought-provoking book will linger in my memory for a very long time. ( )