The story is about Jonas, who lives in a closed community sometime in the far future. All children are taken from their birthmothers and live with professional "nurturers" for a year, then they are assigned to "family units". Each family can apply for two children; they do not have their own children. It gets weirder from there.
As we enter the story, Jonas is about to be given his lifetime "assignment" in a ceremony which all children must attend each year. As hero of our story, he does not even get an assignment, but instead is selected to be the new Receiver of Memory (there is only one such Receiver in the community). So to find out about the special talents and work of the Receiver, we must read the rest of the book.
I am finding some adult subjects in the book that nobody ever mentioned to me in the reviews I read before -- such as nudity is discussed, stirrings, and birth-parenting.
Stirrings are of course suppressed by a daily pill, by all members of the community. Maybe this would be better read by children at the age of puberty. My kids, at ages 8 and 9 are really not understanding it all (I could be wrong there) and asking a lot of questions! March 6, 1999 - We finished this book last night. Wow. It was really strange but by the end we were used to it. I really don't recommend this book for children as young as mine (8 and 9). The boy in the story is 12 and it seems to me that 12 is probably a young enough age to read this, because it covers some mature subjects such as sexuality, emotions and lack of them, and infanticide. My kids seemed confused about certain things up until the end. For example, Cimeron asked several times "How did Jonas get the memories?" and did not seem to grasp the story line regarding transference of memories between the Giver and the Receiver. Perhaps my kids are just not ready for fantasy books. Anyhow, we are done with it now, and I am glad I read it. I think this is a good book for teens to read because it makes one think about the value of our emotions and differences.