Jonas lives in a community where a group of Elders select everything including one’s parents, career, spouse and children. All the negative aspects of society have been removed and the community lives in a safe world of sameness, but unfortunately many of the positive aspects of life have also been removed.
At his Ceremony of Twelve Jonas is assigned the position of Receiver of Memory. The Receiver holds all the memories of the past that include both pleasant and painful ones. The idea is by having the Receiver, the community is not burdened with this knowledge.
During his training sessions the current Receiver of Memory, and now Giver of Memory transfers the memories of the past, that include positive memories like the excitement of riding a sled in the snow but also painful memories like war, famine and death.
As Jonas begins to experience these memories he learns some shocking secrets about the how the community is managed and begins to question the world he is living in.
The novel has a rather ambiguous ending, which while hopefully will leave readers in thought may frustrate some.
The Giver won the 1994 Newbery Medal and is frequently included on top young adult literature lists, but it is also one of the top 25 most frequently challenged or banned books in America.
A film adaptation was released in 2014 starring Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.