Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a world without conflict, hatred or pain. While his seemingly utopian society may sound ideal at the book’s onset, Lois Lowry slowly reveals a more terrifying reality. When Jonas begins his job as the “Receiver of Memory,” he learns all that’s lacking in his world, such as love and even color, and begins to question the supposed tranquility of his society. The winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal, The Giver has sold millions of copies and become a fixture of classrooms around the world—as well as one of the most challenged and banned books of the 1990s. An unsettling and thought-provoking work of science fiction, The Giver helped to pave the way for a boom in dystopian YA literature, tackling complex themes including individualism, memory and the connection between happiness and sorrow. —Madeleine Carlisle

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