6/10/11 ** Day 14, Book 17 ** Wow. This has been on my 'to read' mental list for months. If you haven't yet read it, do so now!
Luke is a 'shadow child,' or one of the illegal 3rd children born to a family. Early in the book we discover that Luke has never been to school, never had friends over, and indeed, has never even met anyone beyond the 4 members of his immediate family. His life is governed by rules about staying hidden and secret.
When his sheltering woods are eminent domained by The Government and a sub-division is built behind his house he watches the 28 people who move in compulsively, and soon discovers that there is a shadowy face peeking out the window of the closest house - another shadow child.
As I read this book, my mind ping-ponged around the debates that my fourth graders might have. Is one's safety worth the loss of freedom? What is freedom? Should Luke go with Jen to the President's house to protest? What is propaganda? Who can you trust to tell the truth? In the face of famine, should families' rights to decide how many children to have be dictated by the government? In the middle of the book Haddix clearly tries to educate her reader about propaganda, climate change, and government control. Some may find this heavy handed, but the plot and characters provide a very real context for exploring these important topics.