by Lois Lowry
Jonas, an Eleven, is nearing the time when his community’s Elders will choose a career assignment for him, at the Ceremony of Twelve. His community knows no pain: the Old live in group homes and are “released” when the time comes in a great celebration; “newchildren” who do not develop properly are also “released,” albeit quietly. Adolescents’ Stirrings (sexual impulses) are tamped down with prescribed drugs, and “it was against the rules for children or adults to look at another’s nakedness,” except for the Old and the newchildren. Jonas is chosen for “the highest honor,” to be the Receiver of Memory, trained by the Giver, the keeper of the community’s memories. But it comes with a price: the Giver explains that the Elders rarely seek his wisdom, “Life here is so orderly, so predictable—so painless. It’s what they’ve chosen.” As Jonas goes through his training, he begins to discover what his community has given up in order to be comfortable. Yes, they forego pain, but they have also never experienced the color red, and music—and pure joy. Jonas must decide if he can endorse this hypocrisy or give up his calling.