In Jonas’ community all choice has been taking away from the citizens. Each year the children achieve a new milestone and new responsibilities until age 12 when they learn what their role in the community will be and start training to that end. Young Jonas is selected to be the community’s new Receiver. That responsibility, and the secrets he learns in this training, force him to confront everything he believes and question everything he has ever known.
The Newberry Award winning young adult book, The Giver, is a very quick read. It is well written and mysterious and does a good job of sucking the reader in to the mysterious world of the story. When Jonas meets the current Receiver, a nameless old man who asks Jonas to call him Giver, he learns that a Receiver is the keeper of the memories of the world. Slowly the Giver transfers his memories to Jonas beginning with a memory of someone sledding down a hill. Jonas experiences these memories as if he is living them and after the memory is complete he is now the sole possessor of the memory. Once the Giver shares the memory with Jonas it is gone from the Giver’s mind. These pleasant experiences soon give way to ones of pain and suffering. It is the Receiver’s burden to keep the memories of the past so that the citizens of the community are unencumbered. Through these memories Jonas sees the hypocrisy of the community and questions if he can go on with the knowledge he has now.
The premise is interesting and fans of post-apocalyptic fiction will enjoy it. The Giver is the first novel in a loosely connected series. I haven’t read the other 3 books yet but I plan to even if for no other reason than the ending leaves everything hanging and nothing answered.