Among the Hidden

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Among the Hidden
Among the Hidden.jpg
Author Margaret Peterson Haddix
Cover artist Cliff Nielsen
Country United States of America
Series Shadow Children sequence
Genre Young adult novel
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date
March 1, 1998
Media type Print (hardcover) Print (paperback)
Pages 160 pp
ISBN 0-689-81700-2
OCLC 37588395
LC Class PZ7.H1164 Am 1998
Followed by Among the Impostors

Among the Hidden is a 1998 young adult novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix concerning a fictional future in which drastic measures have been taken to quell overpopulation. It is the first of seven novels in the Shadow Children series.

Plot summary[edit]

Overpopulation has occurred. Because of this there is very little food and all of it is monitored by the government. Due to this shortage, the democratic republic has been replaced with a totalitarian government that enforces heavy control over the population, particularly reproduction. They outlaw anyone to have more than two children.

Luke Garner, a twelve-year-old child, lives on a farm with his mother, father, and two brothers, Matthew and Mark. As a third child, Luke and his parents are in violation of the law. Luke, like all third children, must spend his days hidden or away from public view. When the government starts building houses in the woods behind the Garners' house, Luke is forced to hide inside his house, in total isolation from the outside world. In the beginning of the story, Luke is quite scared of being caught by the Population Police. But toward the end of the story, he becomes more brave and faces his fears about the Population Police.

Luke Garner used to go outside because nobody lived nearby and he was hidden because of the woods. But the government forced Luke's Family to sell the woods so people could live there, most of whom were barons, who were extremely rich people in the future. So Luke lost the freedom to go outside and was not even allowed to eat on the same table with his family anymore. His parents sealed all the things he could use to look outside except the vent.

While Luke is looking out of a vent from the attic, with which he can see outside, and not be seen from the outside, he sees the face of a girl in a window of a house that he knows already has two children. He secretly runs over to the house about a month later, and meets thirteen-year-old Jen Talbot, the daughter of one of the Barons living in the houses behind him and another third child. There he becomes a close friend to Jen Talbot.

Jen begins to show Luke that what the government has done is wrong. She organizes a rally in support of the third children, and asks Luke to come, but Luke refuses, afraid of what might happen. After not hearing from Jen for one month, Luke crawls over to her house where he meets Jen's father, George Talbot, a Population Police official. Luke finds out that everyone at the rally was shot and killed, including Jen. Mr. Talbot explains to Luke that he opposes the Population Law. The Population Police then break in to Mr. Talbot's house and Luke hides in the closet.

After the police leave, Luke tries to scream, but Mr. Talbot covers his mouth. He writes on a piece of paper that the Population Police had placed bugs and are waiting for clues and evidence that can be used against Mr. Talbot and kill him. He then talks to Luke and asks if he wants a fake I.D to live like a normal person. Luke eventually accepts the proposal and receives the fake I.D. Mr. Talbot then meets Luke's parents to inform them of the situation and that Mr. Talbot has arranged for Luke to take the place of a boy named Lee, a boy of a rich family who died in an accident. Luke says goodbye as he is sent off to boarding school.


  • Luke Garner - A small friendless, and shy twelve-year-old boy. He is not allowed to leave his house due to the fact he is the third child in his family, illegal in the futuristic society. He has never gone to school and must stay in his room (the attic) for most of the time when the Barons start to move in when the forest is knocked down. Later in the story Luke becomes very brave.
  • Mr. Garner - Luke's father. Harlan works on a farm with hogs (until they get taken away by the government). He is one of the strictest people with Luke about avoiding being discovered. He shows his affection through toughness and is often hard on his family because he loves them.
  • Mrs. Garner - Luke's mother. She is a kind and hardworking woman who worries and cares for Luke. She's stated she originally wanted four or five children before the two child policy, but is glad Luke is there anyway.
  • Matthew Garner - Luke's oldest brother.
  • Jen Talbot- Luke's neighbor who he discovers is also a third child. Jen is the first non-family member Luke has ever met. The daughter of extremely wealthy government official George Talbot, Jen grew up with more freedom than most third children and knowledge of the world as it actually is. She organizes a rally to convince the president to repeal the Population Law. At the end of the book, it is revealed that she and everyone at the rally was shot by the Population Police, directly in front of the Head Government House (as Jen's father says, "The blood actually flowed into the president's rose bushes").
  • George Talbot - Jen's father, an extremely wealthy man, one of the top officials of the Population Police and thus one of the most powerful people in the country. He is in fact a double agent, sabotaging the Population Police from within. His daughter, Jen, attempts to rally against the Population Police. In the end, he assists Luke with his escape into the real world.
  • Population Police - The faceless characters who are sent to find third children for a large reward. Luke and the rest of the characters in the book are in constant fear of these shadow-like men. "...The Population Police shoot first and ask questions later."[1]


Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden.


  1. ^ Haddix, p. 128