In a chilling and intelligent novel, Haddix (Leaving Fishers, 1997, etc.) envisions a near future where a totalitarian US limits families to only two children. Luke, 12, the third boy in his farming family, has been hidden since birth, mostly in the attic, safe for the time being from the Population Police, who eradicate such ""shadow children."" Although he is protected, Luke is unhappy in his radical isolation, rereading a few books for entertainment and eating in a stairwell so he won't be seen through the windows. When Luke spies a child's face in the window of a newly constructed home, he realizes that he's found a comrade. Risking discovery, Luke sneaks over to the house and meets Jen, a spirited girl devoted to bringing the shadow children's plight center-stage, through a march on the White House. Luke is afraid to join her and later learns from Jen's father, a mole within the Population Police, that Jen and her compatriots were shot and killed, and that their murder was covered up. Jen's father also gets a fake identity card and a new life for Luke, who finally believes himself capable of acting to change the world. Haddix offers much for discussion here, by presenting a world not too different from America right now. The seizing of farmlands, untenable food regulations, and other scenarios that have come to fruition in these pages will give readers a new appreciation for their own world after a visit to Luke's.