About the Book
Twelve year old Luke Garner, is not like most twelve year olds. He’s never been to school, and whilst for most kids this would be something to celebrate it also means he’s never spent time with friends – or had friends even.
You see, in the years before Luke was born, the government passed a law forbidding couples from having more than two children, and Luke is a third child, one of the shadow children.
Kept secret by their families, they must live in hiding, rarely going outside, or communicating with anyone outside their direct families, because the penalties should they be discovered by the ‘Population Police’ are too severe to contemplate.
For Luke, living in a remote house surrounded by woods, he has at least been allowed to spend time outside, as long as he says close by the house, and then one day the bulldozers arrive. The government have ordered the building of a bunch of houses, Luke and his family are about to acquire one of the things they least wanted. Neighbours.
Luke, must now stay inside his house at all times, and even then, as the neighbours start to move in, he can not join his family for meals around the table – closing the shutters would cause too many questions – so he must eat his meals sitting on the stairs leading to his attic bedroom.
One day when he is sneaking a look outside, he spots something that should not be there, in one of his neighbours houses he spots a child’s face looking out at him from a window of a house where he knows two children already live, two children he knows have already left for school.
What should he do? Should he try and meet this other child? Could they be friends? What would happen if he risked everything to try?
“It never had occurred to him that knowing another person would give him someone else to worry about.”
This is one of those books (and authors) I’ve only become aware of via blogging. I think I first heard of Haddix with the release of ‘The Missing’ and a spate of reviews that followed, most of which mentioned part of her back catalogue, and more often that not, her ‘Shadow Children’ sequence. I knew she was an author I had to try.
And whilst the book isn’t quite as complex as I would like (it is aimed at 8-12 year olds, so that in not a major surprise) it can however be read on many levels, so most readers will find something to intrigue them – whether it is Luke’s dilemma, or the back story of just what a totalitarian government is prepared to do, to keep control over their citizens.
An excellent book for younger teens set in a near-future version of our world, but as I said earlier it has many levels is can be read on many levels, so there is plenty for people of all ages to enjoy.
I would love however to have read a slightly ‘older’ version of the book, where some of the issues raised could have been explored in more detail. 😉
About the Author
Margaret Peterson Haddix grew up on a farm near Washington Court House, Ohio. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in English/journalism, English/creative writing and history. Before her first book was published, she worked as a newspaper copy editor in Fort Wayne, Indiana; a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis; and a community college instructor and freelance writer in Danville, Illinois.
She has since written more than 20 books for kids and teens.