23 August 2007

What I'm Reading Today--Among the Hidden

Here's another off my "to read" list. Among the Hidden (Haddix, Margaret Peterson) is the first in the "Shadow Children" sequence. It tells the story of a totalitarian society (presumably the USA, considering the description of the Rose Garden at the President's house) where citizens are restricted to a two child maximum. Any deviation from this rule can result in penalties ranging from crippling fines to execution.

Meet Luke Gardner, a forbidden "Third Child" hidden in his parent's home where he officially does not exist. One day, he spies another forbidden child in a neighbor's window.....

About half-way through this one I thought I was not even going to bother reading any more in the series; just complete the first volume so that I had a taste of it to help with recommendations. But by the heart-wrenching end, I was ready for more. I was initially so annoyed, not so much by the Population Police who enforce the insane laws. No--what really distressed me was the class divide. When Luke does finally meet Jen, the other Third Child in his neighborhood, he discovers that she is a Baron--a member of a class that is not just wealthy but privileged enough that they can break the rules which oppress everyone else. The injustice was infuriating! Perhaps this is because, while the population control scenario was so extreme, the class imbalance was not. One aspect of the story is Orwellian fantasy. The other hits a bit close to home.

This is just the sort of book I was thinking of when I named this blog "Not Just for Kids". And adult could be riveted by this book, just as easily as its intended audience of 8-12 year olds.

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