I cannot recall if it was a librarian that introduced me to the Shadow Children Series or if I picked up the first volume on my own. Either way, I recall being hooked by the first page, and I devoured the following books in a matter of days. Yet, when I talk to other book lovers, I rarely hear them speak about this little book series that captivated my young imagination and influences my writing to this day.
Among the Hidden is volume one of Haddix’s middle-grade dystopian series following the story of Luke Garner, a third child born in a country where having three children is illegal. For years, Luke has secretly lived on his family’s farm. While he has never been to town, to school, or even ridden in a car, he has been able to tromp across the family’s land, help out in the barn, and catch fireflies in the backyard during the summer. All this changes, however, when the woods behind Luke’s house are torn down to create space for a ritzy neighborhood.
Now that prying eyes abound, Luke is forced to stay in the attic of his home. If anyone finds out that Luke exists, his family will be reported to the population police and Luke will be killed for merely existing. With nothing else to do, Luke spends his days re-reading the same books and watching the houses pop up in the new neighborhood. Once built, he watches the new families that come to live in the nice houses, memorizes the details of all their movements, and notices when a child’s face appears in a window of the house where two children already live.
Luke knows that he must meet this other third child, but doing so will mean risking everything—his family included. But doing nothing will mean risking everything else.
Haddix outdoes herself in this incredible series. These books, written for kids between the ages of 8-12, cover a wide range of heavy topics such as tyranny, poverty, personal grief, and so much more. Not once does she cross the line on ‘too much’ for this age group, but she takes the hands of kids and guides them through these challenging topics. The writing is excellent, engaging, and heartfelt.
I would recommend these books to any reader of any age group. They are not hard to read and the benefits are far greater than I can hope to cover with a single book review. 5 stars!
I am accepting submissions for reviews at this time. I am primarily interested in thrillers, suspense, magical realism, dystopians, and light sci-fi. I have a taste for the grim and love novels that make you think. Leave me haunted but hopeful.