If I recall correctly, the story describes life on the American frontier, but the characters soon realise there's a world outside and that they're essentially living in an exhibition. The characters then escape and I am 99% sure that the area they escape to the "real world" and discover the truth is either: Indianapolis or Minneapolis - it definitely ends in -polis. I read this in about 2000, but no idea when it was published!

This is a book. People say it sounds similar to Westworld and it is very similar, but they are humans not robots.

I may be entirely wrong but I believe that the characters discover that they are in this exhibition because they discover some "limits" to their world maybe like the glass panel or something. I also think there is some requirement for the girl to go somewhere outside of the exhibition maybe for medical reasons but honestly I am not sure that this is true or if I'm making things up.

  • Sounds a bit like the plot of the Westworld TV show, though that's obviously not the answer since it's from about 2016.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 9:53
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    Thanks @TheLethalCarrot I saw your answer and it was great - if you see the wiki article it says the publishers noted a strong similarity between the book and the film theguardian.com/film/2004/aug/10/news1
    – opr
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 10:17
  • @opr No wonder it reminded me of it then! Deleted the answer when I realised you were looking for a book though but glad you found it.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 10:18
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    This sounds like the YA Truman Show.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 3:10
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    @F1Krazy Westworld was originally a series of novels that came out in the 70's
    – RIanGillis
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


I found the book! It is called Running out of Time (1995) by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Jessie Keyser is a 13-year-old girl from the village of Clifton, Indiana, in the 1840s. During a village-wide outbreak of diphtheria, Jessie's mother reveals it is really 1996, and Clifton Village is a tourist attraction. Also, there are cameras all around watching them, but there are some blind spots. Jessica’s mother takes her to a blind spot for the reveal because all the adults were contracted to not tell the kids. Clifton is a replica of a historical village with the tourists hidden, watching the village's activity by video from under the ground.

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    Glad you found it! Note you can accept your own answer in ~48 hours to signify that you have found the answer. Please do so.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 10:17
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    Yes! The masterminds are secretly also trying to test human immunity to diptheria -- that's why the girl's mother sends her out, to get help because they aren't being given modern medicine! I remember being very troubled by this possibility as a kid.
    – Clara B
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 20:27

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