ENTERTAINMENT
08/12/2014 12:55 pm ET

Everything You Need To Know About 'The Giver' Before Seeing The Movie This Weekend

The Weinstein Company

The adaptation of "The Giver," that book you remember adoring so much in middle school, at last hits the big screen this week. Jeff Bridges, who plays the title character, optioned the film in 1995, one year after Lois Lowry's novel won the Newbery Medal. Nearly two decades and several scripts later, adolescents of the 1990s and 2000s can reclaim the story that introduced them to dystopian literature and made them feel all sorts of adult feels for perhaps the first time. Before the long-awaiting adaptation opens on Friday, refresh your memory (that's a tricky concept in "The Giver," as we know) with our handy A-to-Z primer, minus W, X, Y and Z.

Note: The information in this refresher comes from the novel. It does not reflect plot details that have been altered for the movie, such as the age at which children receive their Assignments.

Anthem: A Pledge of Allegiance-esque recitation the community chants simultaneously each morning.

Asher: Jonas' best friend. (Played in the film by Cameron Monaghan.)

Assignment : Every burgeoning teenager receives a role in the community during the Ceremony of Twelve. Assignments include Birthmother, Instructor, Law and Justice, Fish Hatchery Attendant, Maintenance Crew, Director of Recreation, Doctor, Engineer, Security Guard and Caretaker of the Old.

Birthmothers: Responsible for carrying one child each year for three years. After that requirement is fulfilled, Birthmothers serve as Laborers until they enter the House of the Old.

Book of Rules: A documentation of the community's standards and regulations.

Bragging: Off-limits for members of the community.

Capacity to See Beyond: A quality that any Receiver of the Memories must possess and develop, in which he or she can detect color, shape, size and other traits the community no longer knows. Jonas first notices this ability when he sees an apple change shape.

Ceremony of Loss: The ritual performed when a family unit loses a child. The ceremony is a rare instance, as the community takes intense safety precautions to protect children.

Ceremony of Twelve: The event at which 12-year-olds receive their Assignments. After 12, age is relevant in the community and many forget how old they actually are.

Chief Elder: The leader of the community. The Chief Elder is elected every 10 years. (Played in the film by Meryl Streep.)

Childless Adults: When children are grown, parents no longer need family units and therefore go on to live among those for whom childrearing is over.

Climate Control: The removal of seasons in an effort to neutralize agriculture and transportation without the interference of weather fluctuations.

Committee of Elders: The body that governs the community, including Assignments, Matching, Release and other life events.

Discipline wand: A slender item used to correct misbehavior in newchildren.

Dream-telling: A morning ritual during which family units inform one another of their dreams from the previous night.

Dwelling: A family unit's home.

Eight: The age at which children begin their volunteer hours. Also the age when children receive jackets with pockets, indicating they are old enough to keep up with their own small belongings.

Elsewhere: The unspecified place where the released are sent. If a citizen doesn't fit in with his or her community, he or she can apply for release and be sent Elsewhere, which implies a neighboring community.

Feelings: An evening ritual in which parents and children share their emotional reactions to the day's events.

Fiona: Another close friend of Jonas. (Played in the film by Odeya Rush.)

Gabriel: The child Jonas' father is nurturing. Gabe may have to be released because he isn't growing properly, so Jonas' father brings him home to give him extra care.

Hall of Closed Records: Where private information is stored. After becoming Receiver-in-training, Jonas uses a video monitor to access the Hall of Closed Record's footage of his father releasing a newchild.

Hall of Open Records: Where the community's public information is stored.

House of the Old: Where community members are cared for once they become elderly.

Hunger: Cited as the reason the Committee of Elders years earlier did not honor a petition to increase the rate of births. The Giver tells Jonas that centuries ago the population swelled and hunger led to starvation and warfare -- a memory only he possessed and which he used to counsel the Elders in their decision.

Inadequate: The label one receives before being released. Gabe receives this status because he hasn't met the appropriate weight, but Jonas' father convinced the committee to give him an additional year of nurturing.

Jonas: The central protagonist and newly selected Receiver of Memories. (Played in the film by Brenton Thwaites.)

Learning community: The group with which children attend school.

Lily: Jonas' little sister. (Played in the film by Emma Tremblay.)

Maintenance Crew: The group that manages facilities and property within the community.

Matching of Spouses: The process by which an adult is granted a husband or wife. Matching is so meticulous that it sometimes takes month or years to find proper pairings.

Memories: What Jonah will absorb as Receiver. Memories hail from generations ago and span the entire world -- foreign concepts for the insular community. Among the Memories Jonah gleans are snow, sunshine, sunburn, rainbow, animals, pain, fire, hunger, the ocean, war, birthdays, museums, grandparents, holidays, love and music and books.

Murmur-of-Replacement Ceremony: A special practice in which a family unit that lost a child officializes a replacement. Performed at the Naming, the community chants the name slowly at first, with accelerating speed and volume.

Naming: Each family can have one boy and one girl, assigned to them by committee. They submit applications and, once accepted, receive their new child in a ceremony called the Naming, during which parents learn what their little ones will be called.

Newchild: Newborns.

Not-to-Be-Spoken: The status given to something that earns the highest degree of disgrace.

Nurturers: Those responsible for physical and emotional well-being of newchildren. Jonas' father is a Nurturer.

Placement: The process by which a child is assigned to a family.

Precision of language: A tenant applied to vocabulary to specify that all words be used according to their proper contemporary meanings. The community treats words with utmost importance because their definitions have altered so much that some, like "love," are rendered obsolete.

Receiver of the Memories: Considered the most important Assignment in the community. He or she gains memories from his or her predecessor, referred to as The Giver, and becomes the only community member to know what life before Sameness was like. He is sometimes called upon to utilize the memories to advise the Committee of Elders. The Receiver has four essential attributes: intelligence, integrity, courage and wisdom. Jonas is selected as the newest Receiver-in-training.

Rehabilitation Center: Where community members go when they are injured.

Release: The act of removing someone from the community. There are two types of non-punishment release: an elderly person, in celebration of his or her life, and a newchild, in recognition that he or she is not developing according to the Community's standards. Members of the community don't know exactly what happens during a release. The person being released exits through a door in the Releasing Room, never to be seen again.

Rosemary: The Receiver before Jonas. She failed in her training 10 years prior, and in doing so, the memories she'd retained were released, giving everyone access to them and creating chaos. (Played in the film by Taylor Swift.)

Sameness: The condition under which the community was formed and operates. Instead of distinctions among individuals, classes, quality, weather and other fluctuating aspects, the community seeks uniformity.

Speaker: The person who makes announcements over the community-wide intercom system. Announcements are often targeted at specific members of the community, though their names are never uttered.

Stirrings: Sex dreams. Members of the community take pills each morning to prevent dreams about sex.

Twins: Twins are forbidden within communities, so the smaller one is always sent Elsewhere after birth.

Uncertain: The label Gabe receives upon being granted another year of nurturing.

Volunteer hours: From age 8 to 12, children must complete a required number of volunteer hours with various aspects of the community in hopes of helping the Elders to make informed decisions about their Assignments.

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