Among the Hidden
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Talk about making an entrance: Jen's dad bursts onto the scene more dramatically than the Kool-aid Man bursts through walls, with "Turn around slowly. I have a gun" (26.20). And it certainly grabs Luke's attention—as does the story Jen's stepfather tells about being a government lawyer who works for the Population Police. But just like covert spies who cross into enemy territory, Mr. Talbot tries "to sabotage them as much as [he] can" (28.10). Turns out, Luke likes this course of action much more than Jen's aggro rally tactics.
Jen's dad has the special role of being a good guy who's pretending to be a bad guy. It's a form of deception, just like Jen's fake I.D. (Intrigued? Check out our "Deceit" theme.) But even though Mr. Talbot knows what it's like on both sides of the war, he is quite clear when he says to Luke, "I swear to you, in the name of everything that's sacred--in Jen's name--I'm on your side" (28.5).
Whew! Glad that's all cleared up.
Looking out for Luke
Since Mr. Talbot couldn't save Jen, he does all that he can to help Luke evade the Population Police and immediately offers to get Luke a fake I.D. But why would he go to so much trouble? Simple: "because of Jen" (27.64).
Er, maybe not so simple. Is it because Jen and Luke were friends? Is it because that's what Jen would have wanted? Or is it because after losing Jen, he feel obligated to save any shadow child? It sounds like there's a lot about Mr. Talbot that we still don't know.