HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Among the Free
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, reprinted in 2007
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Free (published in 2006 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10020). This is “the long-awaited conclusion to the ‘Shadow Children’ series.” In the first one, Among the Hidden, we are introduced to Luke Garner, a twelve-year old third-born child in a restrictive society that allows only two children per family. In the ensuing volumes, Among the Impostors, Among the Betrayed, Among the Barons, Among the Brave, and Among the Enemy, Luke risks his life to come out of hiding and with his friends and other third-borns fights against the Population Police laws.
In this final book, Luke, who with other third-borns, has infiltrated the Population Police headquarters, accidentally sets off a rebellion that sweeps the country, overthrows the government, and ousts the Population Police from power. The people are now free. However, will their new freedom be everything that they had hoped for? And who is in charge? Luke is in the unique position to know that the new regime is just as corrupt as the old one and he may be the only key to true freedom. Is there anything that he can do? If so, what is it? And will he have the courage to do it?
Some people do not like all the deception that is portrayed in these books, and while I do not countenance any outright dishonesty and lying, even in literature, I do believe that there are times when desperate situations call for desperate measures. There are two things that I do like about all these books. First, they show the dangers of propaganda and demagoguery in a way that is more appropriate for middle school age readers than say Brave New World (there may be an internal joke here–the head of the Population Police is Aldous Krackenour, and the author of Brave New World was Aldous Huxley) or even 1984. Second, all one has to do is substitute “unborn babies” for Haddix’s “third-borns” and you have a perfect parallel to a similar situation in our society. This book is definitely an exciting page turner! Besides, there are no objectionable features such as bad language or sexuality. I really enjoyed reading it.