I feel like everyone my age has read this book in school, and elementary school at that. Somehow, though, it was never assigned reading for me, and I didn't pick it up until Mommi and I were browsing the children's department at my library and, at 192 pages, went by way too quickly!
The story follows a a boy named Jonas through his 12th year, in a society where everything is carefully regulated: food is delivered to and picked up from every home for every meal, husbands and wives are assigned to each other, children's jobs are assigned in their twelfth year. When Jonas has a dream about his yearning for a female friend, he is assigned to start taking pills to stop "the stirrings". You later find out that these societies decided to go to "sameness"; geneticists and scientists have worked to make everything and everyone the same. The same toneless, emotionless, shallow existence.
Everyone lives this way, because they don't know any better. But when Jonas is chosen in his twelfth year to be the Receiver of Memory, he discovers that his life could be so much more happy, sad, desperate, calming, exciting than it has been engineered to be. The question is: what will he do about it?
(Also, I hear that a movie adaptation has just recently been green-lighted, to star Jeff Bridges. Once you've read this book, you will understand how incredibly perfect Jeff Bridges is for his role in this film.)