“Found” by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the first book in her New York Times Bestselling series The Missing. It is a middle-grade science fiction story published in 2008. A mysterious event and its cover up launch the reader on a journey to discover the truth, where adoption and family are central themes. While intended for ages 8-12, the plot is skillfully woven in a way that all readers will find enjoyable.
SPOILER ALERT: The ending is not given away, but spoilers are included in the review below.
Thirteen years after an unscheduled plane lands with only babies on board, Jonah and his best friend, Chip, receive strange letters in the mail telling them they are among the missing. The FBI’s involvement is revealed early into their investigation. When Jonah learns their names are on a survivors list, he resists going further. However, Chip, with the help of Jonah’s sister, Katherine, draws Jonah back into the fold. In the end, a carefully orchestrated event brings the trio, 33 of the other 34 missing babies, one of the witnesses, and those responsible for what happened together for an intriguing end.
While the main plot keeps the story moving, it is the enduring theme of family and belonging that gives the story heart. Jonah and Chip present different views into the experiences of adopted children.
Jonah is from a household where adoption is openly discussed with sensitivity and understanding. Even though his family dynamic seems idyllic, it does not mean we are presented with an unrealistic view of a perfectly adjusted child. On the contrary, Jonah has his own private doubts. He struggles with the idea that his sister Katherine belongs more because she is related by blood. The experiences of their journey release Jonah from his doubt and instill confidence in him that he is where he belongs.
By contrast, Chip had no idea he was adopted. We are given the impression his parents are selfish and not open to discussing it. There are several small points in the story that reveal his emotional struggle to feel wanted and valued. Jonah does offer reassurance, but it has no impact on Chip’s perspective.
There are several great points for opening meaningful discussion on the subjects of adoption, family, and belonging. Jonah’s experience as an adopted child reminded me of my husband’s in some ways. This added a dimension of personal depth for me.
Overall, I loved this story and highly recommend it. The characters were relatable and easily drew me into their adventure. I look forward to reading Sent, the second book in the series.
What do you think Jonah, Chip, and Katherine learned in the end? Did they get answers or did the answers leave them with more questions?