Among the Hidden
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Ever play a game of Hide and Seek and you know you've got a killer hiding spot but then the Seeker comes dangerously close and you're holding your breath just so they won't hear you and you won't get caught? That heart-pounding paranoia sums up Luke's entire life, which means that he's trained to be very aware of his actions and surrounding environment. And, in turn, Haddix makes us very aware of Luke's actions and surrounding environment, giving us a detail-oriented, i-dotting, t-crossing hero.
That makes him the straight man to Jen's impulsive hero. Luke double and triple checks that all twenty-eight of his neighbors leave before venturing out into the restricted areas of his house. And when Jen is wildly going on about the rally, Luke interjects as the voice of reason, asking bold questions like "what if [Jen's friends] don't show up?" (22.21). Luke actually has a bunch of rational moments that ask the big What if... questions.
- What if his family left and never came back? (3.35)
- What if there was a family with one kid? Could Luke join them? (7.6)
- What if the Population Police catch Jen and the others before the rally? (22.10)
All very reasonable questions, and Luke is clearly an advocate of thinking things through. When it came time for his big break away, "he [spends] entire days plotting his route" (12.10) over to the Talbots'. When he thinks about helping other shadow children, Luke wants to be "more patient, more cautious, more practical" (29.70).
We're pretty sure that holding down a steady 9-to-5 isn't in Luke's future, but if it were, we'd definitely be guessing accountant.