Among the Hidden
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3.98 / 5

"Among the Hidden" Summary

By Margaret Peterson Haddix

young adult | 153 pages | Published in NaN

SHADOW CHILDRENLuke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows - does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?


Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

A boy with a third child in a society that permits only two, struggles to survive in a dystopian world.


"Among the Hidden" is a compelling young adult novel written by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Published in 1998, the book is the first installment in the "Shadow Children" series. It delves into the life of Luke Garner, a third child in a society where families are only allowed to have two children due to overpopulation laws. The story follows Luke's journey as he navigates the challenges of living in hiding and yearning for freedom and equality.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

Set in a dystopian future, "Among the Hidden" takes place in a society where the government strictly enforces a two-child policy to combat overpopulation. Luke Garner, a third child, lives in constant fear and isolation as he must remain hidden from the Population Police. In this oppressive environment, Luke's life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Jen, another third child. Jen, who is more outspoken and rebellious, inspires Luke to question the unjust laws and seek freedom.


The novel is primarily set in Luke's family's farm, where he spends most of his time hidden away from the prying eyes of the Population Police. The story also unfolds in Jen's opulent home and the surrounding community, revealing the stark contrast between the privileged and the oppressed in this dystopian society.

Main Characters

The book features several key characters, each playing a significant role in shaping the narrative.

Luke GarnerThe protagonist, a third child living in hiding
Jen TalbotAnother third child who challenges the system
Mr. and Mrs. GarnerLuke's parents who must keep him hidden
Mr. TalbotJen's father who holds a secret of his own
The Population PoliceEnforcers of the government's strict laws

Story Points Over Chapters

  1. Chapter 1-5:
    • Introduces Luke's restricted life
    • Reveals the existence of Jen, another third child
    • Luke's encounters with the outside world
  2. Chapter 6-10:
    • Luke's growing curiosity about the government's laws
    • Luke's interaction with Jen and her radical ideas
    • The revelation of Mr. Talbot's secret
  3. Chapter 11-15:
    • Jen's plan to protest against the two-child policy
    • Luke's internal conflict and desire for change
    • The escalating tension between Luke and his family
  4. Chapter 16-20:
    • Luke's decision to join Jen's cause
    • The risks and perils of defying the government
    • The shocking turn of events leading to a cliffhanger

Main Events

The narrative is driven by pivotal events that shape the characters' decisions and the overall storyline.

Luke's discovery of Jen's existenceSparks a desire for freedom and equality
Jen's plan to protest the two-child policyIgnites a sense of rebellion and defiance in Luke
Luke's decision to join Jen's causeMarks a turning point in his life, risking everything
The shocking turn of events leading to a cliffhangerLeaves readers in suspense and anticipation

Themes and Insights


  1. Rebellion: The novel explores the theme of rebellion against unjust laws and the fight for equality.
  2. Identity: Luke's struggle to find his place in a society that denies his existence highlights the theme of identity and self-discovery.
  3. Freedom: The yearning for freedom and the sacrifices made to attain it are central themes in the story.


The book offers insights into the human spirit's resilience and determination in the face of adversity. It also prompts readers to contemplate the consequences of unchecked government control and the importance of standing up for one's beliefs.

Reader's Takeaway

"Among the Hidden" captivates readers with its thought-provoking narrative and relatable characters. It serves as a poignant reminder of the value of freedom and the resilience of the human spirit. The book leaves readers contemplating the implications of societal restrictions and the power of individual agency in shaping a better future.


In conclusion, "Among the Hidden" by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a compelling and relevant novel that delves into themes of rebellion, identity, and freedom. Through the protagonist, Luke, readers are drawn into a world of oppression and secrecy, prompting reflection on societal norms and individual autonomy. The book's engaging narrative and relatable themes make it a must-read for young adult audiences and anyone interested in thought-provoking dystopian fiction.

Among the Hidden FAQ

  1. What is 'Among the Hidden' about?

    Among the Hidden is a dystopian novel that follows the story of Luke, a third child in a society where families are only allowed to have two children. It explores the challenges and dangers he faces as he must hide his existence to avoid government punishment.

  2. Who is the author of 'Among the Hidden'?

    The author of 'Among the Hidden' is Margaret Peterson Haddix.

  3. What genre does 'Among the Hidden' belong to?

    Among the Hidden belongs to the dystopian fiction genre.

  4. Is 'Among the Hidden' suitable for young readers?

    Yes, 'Among the Hidden' is suitable for young readers, particularly those interested in dystopian themes and adventure stories.

  5. Are there sequels to 'Among the Hidden'?

    Yes, 'Among the Hidden' is part of a series called the 'Shadow Children' series, which includes several sequels that continue the story.