genre: middle grade literature
where it came from: the library
Jonas lives in a perfectly ordered world. No one is hungry. Everyone has a family. Each citizen, starting from the age of 12, has a job to do that benefits everyone in the community. When it is Jonas's turn to find out what his job will be, something unexpected happens - he is given a job that he has never even heard of. And this job, with the wisdom it gives him, changes everything.
It is possible that this is the fourth time (at lease the third) time I have read this book. There are images in this story that have stuck with me since I was a teen, and I think I like it just as much reading it this time as I did in the past.
Part of what I love is that it reminds me of all the beautiful things in my life that I take for granted. It also makes very clear the things in my life that I have become desensitized to - war and abject loneliness and starvation are just par for the course in human existence but they shouldn't be. How much of a price would I be willing to pay to have a pain-free life? What would I be willing to sacrifice?
I think this is just an absolutely well told tale. The only thing I have never liked is the ending. I suppose this could be a spoiler, but the ending is 100% completely ambiguous. I always made a certain assumption but now I have been told that there is a new sequel to this story, so perhaps I was wrong. I am going to go read it next because there definitely are a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the book.
I think that this is a story that raises many pertinent and ethical questions that are excellent for discussion. While there are a few troubling scenes, I still think that mature preteens (11-12 and up) could appreciate its message.