Sunday, November 6, 2011
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden.New York: First Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers eBook edition, 2001.
Luke Garner is the 12 year old protagonist in this novel. The story takes place in time where it is illegal to have more than 2 children in a family because of a shortage of food. Luke is the third child in his family and has been living in hiding since he was born? The government decides to take down the woods near Luke's home and he must live in the attic of his house and is not even able to eat with his family. He used to play outside, but he is never able to do this again. He is totally isolated from everyone. One day he looks out a vent in the attic and sees a child's face in a nearby home. He knows the parents and two children have already left the house. Luke musters up the nerve to sneak to the house and find out who the third child is. He discovers Jen Talbot, another hidden child. Jen is planning a rally against the government to oppose the population law. Luke does not have the courage to go with her and then finds out Jen has been killed at the rally. Jen's father gets Luke a fake I.D to go off and live his new life.
The setting of this novel is integral to the plot of the story. Luke's family is living during a time where it is illegal to have more than two children due to overpopulation. This is an interesting topic since just recently the seventh billion person was just born in our world. Since we are finding cures for diseases and people are living longer will over population become a real problem? Can we really face a rule like this one in the future?
Luke's character does not represent every adolescent. He lives a strange life. He technically does not exist and does not have a life. His mother visits him in the attic for a break. She calls it her "Luke break". His brothers Matthew and Mark visit him too, but not very often. They are busy with their own lives. His character changes during the book. He is a very scared child in the beginning, but takes huge risks to visit the other "shadow child". "Suddenly he hated his house. It wasn't a sanctuary. It was a prison." He visits Jen, but does not have the courage to go with her to the rally. He does get the courage to accept a fake I.D and begin a real life for himself.
The novel contains dystopian elements and the loss of free will. I think this is one theme of the book. School Library Journal says “…the loss of free will is the fundamental theme of an exciting and compelling story of one young person defying authority and the odds to make a difference. Readers will be captivated by Luke’s predicament and his reactions to it.” The government is very strong and tells the people what they can grow for food and how many children they are allowed to have. Everyone is afraid to stand up to the government.
Strengths & Weaknesses:
This books is an easy read and a page turner. It gets exciting when Luke risks everything to find Jen. The tension builds when he must decide whether he should try and visit the child in the window. The tension was huge when the population police were in the house and Luke was in the closet hiding. I did not see any weaknesses to this story.
Reviews & Awards:
American Library Association's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adult Honors
International Reading Association Children's Book Award
American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults
American Library Association Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Reader's
Junior Library Guild Selection
American Bookseller"Pick of the List" Notation
School Library Journal states "the loss of free will is the fundamental theme of an exciting and compelling story of one young person defying authority and the odds to make a difference. Readers will be captivated by Luke's predicament and his reactions to it."