The Giver by Lois Lowry
Jonas is eleven when we first meet him. He lives with his mother, father, and younger sister in a seemingly serene and incredibly organized community. Children don’t have individual birthdays but are grouped together by age, and Jonas is approaching becoming “a twelve” – the milestone when he will learn what his future occupation will be. But something unexpected happens at the ceremony and Jonas is given an unusual and rare position. As he undertakes his training, he, and the reader, learn more and more disturbing things about his community.
I liked this book a lot – I love alternate worlds and I’m always amazed at the ideas that authors come up with when crafting them. The intricate details of how the society works, how the people interact, how lives are led, was so interesting. But this book is really very disturbing and I’m not sure how I would have handled reading it as an 11-year old. Jonas’ father works caring for babies until they are old enough to be taken into a family (at their one year ceremony) and there is one terrifying scene in which his father “releases” a newborn twin – I still think about this passage all too often.
There are two more books in this series and although I’ve read mixed reviews about them, I think I may give them a try, mostly so I can see what happens next to Jonas.