From the beginning of the book to chapter 8 we follow Jonas in his everyday life in the Community from being a normal boy to becoming the Receiver of Memory.
At the beginning of the story, a plane flies overhead and scares Jonas. He learns that the pilot made an error and will be Released. He is relieved and sad.
We learn that the Community is made up of family units with a Mother, Father and two children, a boy and girl. None of them are related. They are carefully assigned by a Committee of Elders.
Jonas’s father is worried about a Newchild, whom he secretly calls by his future name of Gabriel, that is not growing fast enough and might have to be Released. We learn that Release occurs as a punishment, when a person is old, and when a Newchild does not meet certain milestones.
Jonas is worried about the Ceremony of Twelve, where he will learn the job he will have for the rest of his life. He is going to begin training after school.
Jonas has a friend named Asher who often makes mistakes. People who say something wrong or break a rule must apologize.
Jonas is helping Asher practice catching an apple when he realizes the apple changed. He takes the apple home to see what would happen and is reprimanded for taking food he did not eat.
The family has a ritual each night where they share their feelings. Not being honest is not allowed. Feelings are addressed and resolved. In the morning they share dreams for the same reason.
Jonas has a dream inspired by his experience bathing an elderly woman in the House of the Old, and his parents give him pills to take for Stirrings.
Jonas is skipped at the Ceremony of Twelve, making him and everyone in the audience uncomfortable. Then Jonas is chosen as the Receiver of Memory, and the crowd chants his name.