I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Genres: Middle Grade, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 1, 1998
Source: the library
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Also by this author: The Summer of Broken Things, The Strangers
First in the Shadow Children dystopian science fiction series for middle-grade readers and revolving around Luke Garner, a forbidden third child.
Among the Hidden was nominated for the Bluestem Book Award in 2018. In 2002, it won the Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award for Grades 6–8, and in 2001, it won the Sunshine State Young Readers Award for Grades 6–8 and the California Young Readers’ Medal for Middle School/Junior High. In 2000, Among the Hidden was nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award.
Ugh! This is an awful world they live in. A government that tells you how and what to plant, grow, or raise, and doesn’t care if you can make a living at what they tell you. In truth, they want to keep you under…hmmm…sounds like what they’re doing to us now. Pets are no longer allowed. Even worse…junk food is outlawed! The next step is enforced vegetarianism!
It makes me so angry when the government develops this fancy new subdivision next door to the Garners’ farm, and “oh, no, none of their new neighbors will want to smell pig manure. You’ll have to stop raising pigs, even if they do bring in a good income. Oh, and by the way, with all these new homes that cost so much, your taxes have gone up.”
Haddix slips her criticism in very neatly, as Jen, — such an altruist, believing in hope, and so naïve — passes on her dad’s words about the population growing too big and food production not keeping up, as poor organization. Gotta admit, that sounds about right.
The one thing I took away from this was how incredibly unfair this is to Luke. No one knows he exists. He can never be seen by or talk to anyone outside his immediate family. He must always be hidden. What kind of life is this for a child? Haddix makes this so clear by using third person simple subjective point-of-view from Luke’s perspective, as he dwells on how invisible he is.
And it’s Jen who inspires Luke to no longer sit back and let things happen.
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family’s farm, until another third convinces him that the government is wrong.
Luke Garner is the youngest, the unexpected baby they couldn’t kill. Matthew and Mark are his older brothers. Edna and Harlan are his parents who work the farm. The non-local family members include Aunt Effie and Lisabeth, none of whom know Luke exists.
Their neighbors include the Willikers and the new Barons who move in, whom Luke names: the Big Car Family, the Sports Family, the Birdbrain Family, the Golds, and more.
Jennifer “Jen” Talbot (of the Sports Family) is a shadow child who refuses to stay in the shadows. She refers to her older brothers, Bulleton and Brownley, as Bull and Brawn. George Talbot is her dad who works for the Population Police.
Sean, Carlos, Yolanda, and Pat, are all third children, shadows. Lee Grant is a new person.
The Population Police keep an eye out for third children. General Sherwood came to power and reordered our world. Barons are rich people. A shadow child is one that doesn’t officially exist, a third child.
The Cover and Title
The cover is grim in its greens and browns with a close-up of Luke looking back over his shoulder at two figures on the other side of a lace-curtained window.The text is primarily white, starting with the info blurb at the very top and then the author’s name. An embossed silver “coin” is bordered with the name of the series with a central interlocking, Celtic-looking knot. Immediately below that is the title with the words split between a pale yellow and white. The same sort of split occurs in the series information below that with another info blurb to the right in a bright yellow.
The title refers to Luke, as being one Among the Hidden.