by Lois Lowry
Jonas, our main character and hero, is pretty impressive for a twelve-year-old guy. He's contemplative, careful, pensive, mature, compassionate, and composed. He can take care of an infant. He's selfless. He seems to have no qualms about volunteering to bathe super-old people. He treats The Giver with respect and bears pain without complaining. Wow.
That being said, he's still twelve, and we all know what that feels like. He wants to hang out with his friends, so it frustrates him (at least at first) that his job seems to leave no time for doing so. He gets a crush on Fiona which, again, is par for the twelve-year-old course. His little sister makes him roll his eyes, his friends get jealous when he's singled out – this all seems like normal stuff.
But this is really just more of the cool normal-but-weird set-up we see everywhere in The Giver. We recognize what's going on, it feels familiar, but it's infused with a dose of futuristic oddball stuff that makes us uncomfortable. For example, Jonas is actually wiser than most of the adults in his life. He knows more than they do. In fact, he knows more than they ever will. This is part of what makes him so unique: he's literally a twelve-year-old with the knowledge and wisdom of a very old man. Er, make that the knowledge and wisdom of most of humanity for generations and generations. That's quite the cross to bear.
So it's no surprise that Jonas flips out a little bit by the end of the novel, particularly when he realizes that his Father has been lying to him for as long as he's been able to speak English. His raging reaction is totally justified, and his decision to run away with Gabriel is heroic to say the least. Where Jonas really gets tested, as a person and as a hero, is at the end of The Giver. It's easy to be all, "I'm for freedom! I'm for individuality!" in words, but it's another thing to prove those beliefs with your actions. Jonas has to come to grips with the fact that, yes, freedom is dangerous. Yes, he may have made the wrong choice. But, d--n it, he walks up that snowy hill anyway. It's a Rocky moment. Or maybe a slaying Voldemort moment, depending on the pop culture of your childhood. What we mean to say is, Jonas gets clear hero status in our book, while at the same time being vulnerable enough to seem human. But that's just us. What do you think?