A youth named Jonas lives in an equalized, literally colorless, but pleasant society with no knowledge of love or pain and such. When he and his best friends Asher and Fiona come of age, they receive their societal roles, with Jonas given the rare position of Receiver (of Memories). Because of this, he meets a mentoring elder Receiver (later called The Giver). They look at memories of the past world, of joy, of pain, and of love. As Jonas receives these memories, he breaks the cardinal rule against sharing them with others, thereby getting in trouble with the watchful Chief Elder. When Jonas discovers that an infant boy named Gabriel will be terminated, his efforts to save the child puts him squarely against his society. Deciding that all must re-learn to see color, to feel pain, and to show and receive love, Jonas becomes public enemy number one.