What if you could live in a world where there was no war? Where no one starves and medical care is free for all? Where education and job training is free, and everyone is employed, with the exception of children too young for school and the elderly, who are lovingly cared for and entertained in a home? Where every 9 year old receives his or her own bike and the community has amusement directors?
This book posits such a world, but also proposes one view of what trade-offs would need to be made in order to achieve such a place. We see the world through Jonas' eyes. Jonas is a well adjusted boy who is about to become 12 years old when the book begins. Turning 12 is a momentous occasion because that's when the children begin their individual career paths, rather than the more general education given to younger children.
Note: This excellent and thought provoking book deals with some fairly serious topics and is probably inappropriate for younger children.
Newbery Medal winner for 1994
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Wikipedia's article on The Giver