I read this book for a school book report, and it went wonderfully! When I was done with the report, my mom wanted to read The Giver, and she read it and loved it! She even shared it with HER friends, and they loved it too! This is a child's/preteen's book, but adults love it too. It is totally appropriate for children 10 & up! Some adults say that this book is bad for children and that it gives them the "wrong values" and that this book is an example of "society gone astray", because of it's perfectly utopian society. THAT IS NOT TRUE. DO NOT LISTEN TO THOSE ADULTS WHO SAY THAT. Because of that utopian society, this book simply OPENS children's minds that makes them really think about it. I mean, c'mon. What would OUR society be like if it were that way? Would everything really be "perfect" if our society functioned that way? (etc.) There you go! A perfectly thought-provoking read. Oh and also, toward the middle of this book, Jonas (he's the main character if you haven't already figured that out) experiences "stirrings". Stirrings are a natural thing for 12 year olds in the society to feel, and they can simply be "cured" with a pill. "Stirrings" are slightly sexual thoughts/dreams. But remember, they're very mild. They're so mild that the sex sign (the black dot with white lips on it) isn't even necessary to put here. If you want to find out what the "stirrings" are like, then read the book!
I'll summarize this book for you: (Sorry that it's a little long:) The summary is written below this. You don't have to read it if you don't want to. But I strongly suggest you do.
Meet Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy who lives in a rigidly controlled society some time in the future. In his "community," there is no suffering, hunger, war, and, as you will soon see, no color, sex, music, or love. Everything is controlled by "the Elders," right down to who you will marry, who you receive as children, and what you will be "assigned" as a job. Individual identity has gone the way of cassette tapes, and everyone is essentially just like everyone else. It seems that no one has really left the area, except to visit other neighboring communities. To get "released" is a big deal. It only happens to sick infants or really old people, or to people who break the rules.
In short…this world is a lame place to hang out.
Right, so because Jonas is almost twelve, it's almost time for him to get assigned a profession. There's a big ceremony at which the decisions are announced. Jonas watches all his friends get their jobs (Recreation Director, Caretaker for the Old), but then he's skipped over. The Chief Elder finishes the ceremony and explains that Jonas has been "selected" to be The Receiver of Memory, which is a BIG DEAL. Jonas looks over at the current Receiver, an old man who, like Jonas, has light eyes. This is also a big deal; Jonas is one of very few people in the community with light eyes.
Speaking of light eyes, Jonas's family has been taking care of a sick baby named Gabriel with this same unusual characteristic. If the baby doesn't get better within a year or two, he's going to be released from the community.
OK, so now that Jonas has been selected to be Receiver, he gets a list of rules. They tell him that he isn't allowed to discuss his Receiver "training" with anyone, that he's allowed to lie (!), and that he can ask anyone any questions he wants, even if it's rude. Nice.
And then Jonas starts his training, which consists of receiving a series of memories from the old Receiver, who is now referred to as The Giver. These aren't just any old personal memories; rather, the old man is passing on to Jonas all the memories of humanity, going way back. The memories are from before their community was established, back when there was color and sex and love and music and emotions and hills and snow and sunshine, all of which are notably absent from Jonas's world. The very first memory he receives is that of sledding down a hill in the snow. While Jonas gets to experience lots of fun things like Christmas and birthday parties, he also has to deal with the bad memories, like sunburn, loss, death, and warfare.
Needless to say, this completely changes the way Jonas looks at his world. He realizes that no one around him has ever felt any real emotions at all. A year into his training, Jonas discovers that the process of "release," which is performed on people who break the rules, babies who are sick, and folks who are very old, is really nothing more than a lethal injection. This doesn't go over too well. He and The Giver devise a plan: Jonas will fake his own death and run away to Elsewhere, a.k.a. the land outside the communities, which is, for all intents and purposes, very similar to OUR world (in other words, it has music and color and joy, but also violence and poverty). Once Jonas leaves, the memories which The Giver has passed to him will be released to the general community, at which point they'll all just have to deal with the pain. Oh, and also they'll be free, because they'll understand what it means to have choices.
Great. Sounds like a plan. Except it doesn't work. While he's getting ready for the big escape night, Jonas finds out that the little baby with light eyes, Gabriel, is going to be "released" the next morning. He has to make an improvised, fast-paced, and thrilling bicycle escape, taking the baby with him.
So.......do Jonas and Gabriel die??? Read this book to find out!!!!!!!