Shadow Children #1
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published on June 1, 2006 by Aladdin Paperbacks
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.
Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.
Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows -- does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford "not" to?
This week I decided to take a walk down memory lane. I’ve read Among the Hidden many times before, but they were all before I entered high school. When I was in 6th grade, Haddix was coming to my school and the only way to get in to see her was to have read her books. So what did I do? I read all of the books the library had of hers XD She became my favorite author at the time and there are times when she still is.
Among the Hidden was the first of her books that I read and it still holds a place in my heart. It’s a dystopian type novel that follows the life of a third child. In this world, no one is allowed to have more than two children because the government decided it was the only way to keep the human race from going hungry after the great famines. Luke’s family runs a farm, like many families in this world, so Luke was able to have a little bit more freedom to roam around…that is until the Barons moved into the new houses being built behind their family’s farm.
The Barons are the rich of this world. They are the families who have close ties with the government; the families who can get away with a lot more than a lowly farming family. But the moment these families move in, Luke is forced to always stay in his attic room, to eat on the bottom of the stairs instead of at the table with the family. This is when he starts to really understand what it means to be a third child. It is heartbreaking to read. I couldn’t imagine having to do that. If I were cooped up inside all day, I would go crazy.
But then something changes. Luke sees another third child in a Baron house and he wants to investigate. This is where he meets Jen. The starter of the revolution. She is the complete opposite of Luke in almost every way. She’s assertive, she’s brave, and she doesn’t care if it will kill her as long as she can make a difference. They form an unlikely friendship. She shows him both sides of the story when it comes to the famines. Where the resistance believes the government is just hiding all the food – hoarding it for their own gain. She shows him her third child chat room where hundreds of third children are communicating with her and agreeing with her plan to march in protest. They want to show the government that they are there and they aren’t going away until they’re free. Luke, admittedly, lets fear take over and opts out of this resistance march.
It isn’t until Jen doesn’t come back for days that he risks it and runs over to her house to see if she’s there. This is where he meets her father and has his first run in with the Population Police (yes, that’s what they’re called xD). Jen’s father is part of the population police, I know go figure right? Of course one of the most important government officials has a third child. Anyway, he tells Luke that he isn’t safe anymore and offers to get him a fake ID so that Luke can go away and be safe. This is when Luke becomes Lee…
So, I didn’t mean for this to be all over the place…I have a lot of book reviews stuck in my head right now because I was bad and didn’t review the books I read immediately. But I do recommend this series. It’s quick and it’s really good for a middle grade 🙂