Here is another of the books I read this summer that I thought I would comment on. It's pretty easy to say why I chose it for my list - I have heard about this book for years, but it came out just a little bit after I was in junior high, so I never read it in school, as I think many students do now. It also won a Newbery Medal.
The Giver is the story of Jonas, who lives in a Community where there is no strife, no real pain or fear, no war. Society has become very strictly controlled in order to eliminate these things. Lowry does a decent job of showing how the powers-that-be do this, through her descriptions of life through eleven-year-old Jonas's eyes. Sometimes she does have to tell the reader explicitly, or in some cases, when she doesn't explain something well, it can be confusing - I was pretty confused about the whole color issue, until that became really clear. I found the world that Lowry has created to be totally fascinating, and it brings up a lot of issues of giving up control over our lives in order to gain safety. I can see why it is popular at schools - it would give a lot to talk about.
While I found the world to be interesting, and I loved reading about Jonas's transition from an Eleven to a Twelve, the way the book ended really did nothing for me. This book had a lot of potential, but I felt like it went somewhere that did not take the issue to its fullest. I would still recommend it, just because the issues it brings up are interesting, and if you have a tween or teen to read it with, it would be an excellent discussion starter. However, because of the weak ending, I can't say that it is the best of this genre I have ever read.