Sometimes there's no better story out there than a children's book. I was checking books in today when I came across Margaret Peterson Haddix' Among the Hidden. It's an older book, but I've never read the critically acclaimed series. Now that I'm hooked, I'll have to find time to read the other six books in the series.
Luke Garner was twelve years old, but he had never met anyone outside his family. He wasn't allowed outside when anyone might see him. And, once the family was forced to sell the woods to the Government for housing, he would never be allowed outside again. Since someone might see him, he wasn't even going to be allowed to eat in the kitchen anymore with the rest of the family. "There was a law against Luke." The law wasn't actually against him. People were only allowed to have two children, and Luke was a third. The Population Police enforced the law, and there could be a multimillion dollar fine, and death. Luke's farming family certainly couldn't afford that. So, Luke spent day after day in his attic bedroom, reading just the few books he was allowed, and trying to peer out the vents to see the outside world.
Then, one day, Luke notices a face at a window where he can already identify the four family members. And, this face doesn't fit. When he finally has the nerve to sneak through the yards, he finds a girl his own age who says they're "Shadow children," illegals whose parents broke Population Law 3903. They're third children. After giving Luke books about the population explosion and subsequent world starvation that led to the Population Law, Jen is ready to recruit Luke to her cause. It's time for the thirds to reveal themselves.
Among the Hidden is a tragic start to a series that promises to be riveting. It's a book that reminds me of of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games for a slightly younger audience. Luke is a character who promises to grow and learn in the course of the series. I'm looking forward to the next book in this chilling series.
Margaret Peterson Haddix' website is www.haddixbooks.com
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Aladdin Paperbacks, ©1998. ISBN 0689824750 (paperback), 153p.
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