Luke lives in the attic. Mostly, anyways. He’s an illegal third child. After having Matthew and Mark, his older brothers, his parents decided they wanted another child. This “no third child” foolishness the government recently enacted surely won’t last, they thought. A baby could be hidden for a short time until more logical minds prevailed and the law was repealed.
Now, twelve years later, the law is still in place, and Luke remains Among the Hidden. He eats meals with his family, but he doesn’t attend school, go to town, or visit the neighbors. Nothing. The remoteness of the family farm allows him some outdoor freedom – fields, barn, backyard – but that’s it.
Now the government has cleared the forest behind the house to make room for new housing. Unfortunately for Luke, the shelter given him by the forest has now disappeared along with the trees.
Most days are spent in the attic. Someone could see him through the windows. The government could monitor the phone, computer, or the family’s daytime electricity consumption and send the Population Police to investigate. Anything might give him away.
Luke’s only break from the monotony is his view of the new houses through an attic vent. One boring day blends with the next for Luke as he watches the comings and goings of the neighboring Barons, the rich upper class residents of his community.
Then Luke sees the last thing he expects – a face peering out of the neighbor’s window. From an empty house. Empty just like his.
Daring to venture out, despite the danger of discovery and his parents’ constant warnings, Luke goes next door. He meets Jen, another third child, daughter of a Baron, with a dream of being a great reformer. She is convinced the government’s stories of overpopulation are all lies. Through Internet chat rooms she is organizing a rally of shadow children, a rally to bring attention to the thousands of children that live in secret without the freedom other children enjoy. She believes the laws banning third children will be eliminated due to her efforts, and she wants Luke to help.
Will he? Can he? Should he? All are questions Luke must weigh, knowing the consequences could be severe. Jen’s decision is made, and Luke makes his.
The end of the book – after the rally of shadow children – finds Luke assuming a new identity and leaving to live Among the Imposters, the title of the second book in the seven book Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix.