Saturday, December 15, 2007

Among the Hidden

Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, is a post apocalyptic, young adult story. The threat of impending famine causes a radical shift in the very fabric of the United States. The President becomes a dictatorial ruler who enacts severe population and agricultural controls. Couples are only permitted 2 children. A third child would be imprisoned, or even killed, along with the parents for violating the law.

In this world, the third child of a farming family is required to remain hidden from public view, a young boy named Luke. No chance to run and play. No chance for education. His existence is lived within the walls of his home, the blinds drawn, the lights off. And he is not the only 3rd child. A new housing subdivision is built nearby. During the day, he is able to peer out an attic window and watch what are supposed to be empty houses. Until one day he sees something that should not be seen - the face of a girl looking out a window. What follows is a friendship between the two. His friendship is threatened by the girl's differing political views. She is a rebel who decides to fight for the rights of third children.

The story is thought provoking. The erosion of liberties in the face of potential crisis is a reality (post 9-11 legislation, for example). How much intrusion is ok? What should we give up to save ourselves, if anything? How would you react in similar situations? There are several ideas that could bring out interesting discussions between parent & child. The book claims to be geared toward children aged 5-8. I would have to strongly disagree with this suggestion. Perhaps older high school children would be more appropriate. The book has violence, death, and political and ethical discussions. This is a book that parents should read with their young adult children. BTW, this is the first book of a series - I doubt I will read the rest of it.

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