The Giver by Lois Lowry
The protagonist, Jonas, introduces us to his community as he approaches his twelfth December, when he will be given his Assignment, his career path. All his life, he and his Groupmates have been taught to strive to conform. The Sameness encompasses all they do. As readers, we sense something wrong in the community, though they suffer no fear, anger or hunger.
After receiving his assignment as Receiver of Memories, though, Jonas begins to receive from the Giver the memories of life before the community. He feels great pain and suffering, but also learns of love and joy. As he becomes estranged from his friends and family, he questions more and more the wisdom of the Elders and the community.
The community is this book is disturbing in many ways. The lessons Jonas learns during his training as the Receiver and, later, when he draws on all the courage and strength he has, are thought-provoking. While raising many of the same issues as Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Giver is accessible for younger people. I would not recommend this book for very young children and will probably never read it aloud. I think, though, it could be a powerful book for the children to read when they are older, perhaps middle school age. It could prompt discussions of the absence of religion in the community in the book, importance of family, the meaning of life, the purpose of work, the balance between individuality and community, and the reasons we sacrifice for the benefit of others.