It was 1981-1982 when I read it. My female English teacher told me to read it...not the class. Not sure when it was written? I remember it was written from the sister's perspective. There seemed to be no parents from what I remember. And it was underground or something...not like real earth. I would love to know what it is! The teacher I had died in the late 80's so there's no way to try to contact her. Thought I would try the net. Thanks for your time!!

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    That, unfortunately, covers a LOT of books! Do you have any more recollections? Perhaps the cover? Any commonly used phrases in the book? Any plot info? The more you can provide, the better a chance of getting a good answer..
    – K-H-W
    Apr 25, 2012 at 22:34
  • I feel like it was a newer book at the time? Not sure? I kept thinking it was Madeleine L'Engle but when I poked around Amazon none of the plots sounded right. I was 12 at the time so...it's a shame I don't remember more since I did read it multiple times! The memory is so vague...
    – Tara
    Apr 26, 2012 at 2:48
  • This reminds me on a book I read a long time ago, but it's vague... Did it involve a social structure, where the average was worshipped, and every person having not average properties (beauty, intelligence, etc.) were considered aberrations, and were oppressed?
    – vsz
    Apr 26, 2012 at 6:15
  • Madeline L'Engle, COULD fit, if you are remembering certain aspects of the Time Quartet; Several of the books are from Meg's (the sister) perspective, there are a number of 'not real earth' settings, etc. Do the names Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin O'Keefe ring any bells? Or Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which or Mrs. Who? She's written other books (many of them), but the Time Set is the most often recommended by English Teachers in my experience. Remember any character names, if the above don't ring any bells?
    – K-H-W
    Apr 26, 2012 at 13:14
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    The City of Ember is too new for the timeframe you mention.. But it was based on Suzanne Martel's 'The City Under Ground' (aka Surreal 3000) which might also fit, although I believe both protagonists were male.
    – K-H-W
    Apr 26, 2012 at 17:56

5 Answers 5


I'm thinking it might be The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. It was written in 1975 and during the '80s was often an "enrichment" selection on grade school book lists, meaning it was given to children who breezed through the regular class reading lists.

A virus kills all the adults, and society falls apart. A girl and her younger brother become the central unifying figures of a group of children who establish a society in a school building, which they fortify and barricade against marauding child gangs, so that a fair part of the book has the protagonist-children living exclusively indoors in semidarkness. It is written in omniscient third-person, but focuses mostly on the girl's point of view.

  • Interesting fact, the book was set in a suberb in Chicago. I too read this in grade school (While living near Chicago) and was quite impressed to divine it was set not far from where I was reading.
    – Botonomous
    Dec 16, 2014 at 13:05

For some reason your question made me think of "Podkayne of Mars" by Robert A. Heinlein, although it only fits some of your description. A brother and sister are traveling in a spaceship. The story is told mostly through digital journal entries made by the sister (the brother hacks into her journal and makes some entries also.)


This sounds like "Why Weeps the Brogan?" by Hugh Scott

The brother and sister (the POV character - point) are trapped in a buried museum (thus "underground") with hostile spiders and a mysterious creature called "The Brogan", although you have to work that out (and a lot else besides) by yourself. Some catastrophe has befallen them and their parents are no longer around (point). The book is essentially a big puzzle whereby nothing is initially explained. The story gradually reveals who they are, how they came to be there, who or what the Brogan is and why it weeps. The writing is quite stylised and it won the Whitbread in 1981 according to Blog Post about Why Weeps the Brogan? by Hugh Scott (thus likely to be a recommendation by an English teacher).

I hope it's the right book!


This sounds like one of the books from the Chthon or Phthor series by Piers Anthony.

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    I suspect not; those were both a bit heavy on the sex, not to mention S&M for most High School English teachers to recommend. (I'm assuming High School, as they are rarely called just 'english teachers' at higher levels.) Also, neither was from a "Sister's" perspective. Chthon was from Anton Five's perspective, and, if I remember correctlu, Phthor was from his son's.
    – K-H-W
    May 20, 2012 at 23:27

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card!

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    While Ender's Game does match some of the recalled details, it was not written from Valentine's (the sister) perspective. The book version was also not released until 1985. The original short story was published in 1977, but does not include a sister as a character in any way.
    – phantom42
    Aug 1, 2013 at 12:58

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