"Like everyone in Harmony, Jacob was blind and had been from birth. Everyone born into the community of Harmony Station, along with her sister colonies and mother foundation on Earth, lived without sight. Jacob himself was hardly aware of what his blindness meant. The darkness wasn't dark: light, colors, the pictures of the world around him, merely formed an absence that was unaware of itself."
When Jacob began to regain his sight, he was frightened. It just didn't happen in Harmony, and when it did, it was remedied very fast. At first he thought about going to the council but then he began "seeing" what was really going on in their perfect little community. There was corruption, greed and deceit everywhere --- even with his beloved mother. He couldn't believe all this was happening.
One of Jacob's best friends was a girl named Delaney. Delaney's father was the high councilor and everyone felt that Delaney was one lucky girl --- everyone except Delaney. She confided to Jacob one day that she was very unhappy. She wanted to leave Harmony. She wanted to "see" and go out into the world. After overhearing a heated conversation between Delaney and her father, and then having Delaney reported dead, Jacob is grief-stricken and more confused than ever. How could Delaney --- strong, vibrant and outspoken --- possibly be dead? Was there another explanation? As Jacob's sight becomes stronger he uncovers the worst of all secrets about Delaney, her father and the operations at Harmony.
When Jacob's secret is revealed by his best friend, he must decide to be "reprogrammed" at one of the Gatherings to be an example for others and, of course, for his own good. He is gradually coaxed into believing that this will mean his life will be so much better. With sadness and an overwhelming resignation, the day of his ceremony arrives. Everything goes smoothly until Jacob, guided now by the high councilor, realizes what is really happening. In a matter of seconds all the truths come tumbling into his world and he knows he must run. But will he make it? Can he make it?
David Stahler Jr. has written a tight, well-paced book that creates interesting, well-defined characters, especially that of young Jacob. Similar themes run through Lois Lowry's THE GIVER, but Stahler tells his own story with a freshness fans will embrace.
Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on January 1, 2005