Among the Free: Shadow Children
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
mong the Free
sequence that includes six other volumes:
Among the Hidden
Among the Imposters
Among the Betrayed
Among the Barons
Among the Brave
Among the Enemy
. In a future where food is scarce, Population Police enforce a law that limits families to two children. Luke Garner is an
, a third child who spent his childhood in hiding at his parents' farm.
Among the Free opens
, Luke and others have joined the Population Police (the
), in an effort to fight back from within the power structure. Luke has ended up a stable boy shoveling horse manure, but he loves the horse he named Jenny after a friend who died for her beliefs. Then, Luke is one of the boys selected to accompany officers to the villages to organize new IDs for everyone. In the first house Luke enters, an old woman takes a stand, and Luke makes a choice that sends him on the run, as open rebellion breaks out behind him.
ealizing that the regime's policies are ineffective, people everywhere are saying no to the
, who lose power while Luke careens around the countryside, afraid of everyone he meets. Finally, he discovers what has happened and accompanies new acquaintances to police headquarters, where he finds Oscar - whom he has met before and has good reason not to trust - in charge, and mounting a new campaign against
. Oscar plans to make them scapegoats in order to build a new power structure out of the remnants of the old.
inally, Luke takes a brave stand himself, and learns in the process that freedom is won by facing fears, not running from them. He reunites with his surviving friends and looks ahead at a future filled with new possibilities. Though I missed the earlier episodes in the series, this one reminded me a little of John Marsden's brilliant
series, in that its young, frightened protagonist still considers the rights and wrongs of his own and others' motivations and actions.
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