I'm hoping someone can identify this young-adult/children's sci-fi book. I read it in 1996-1997, but I remember thinking it was written in the 1980s.

The main character was a boy (maybe in his early teens) and over the course of the book he gained a female companion of the same age. I think the boy and his father had a vegetable garden growing in their basement, but it was illegal for them to grow their own food so they hid the trapdoor to the basement under their refrigerator. The boy's father was an important scientist (or something of that nature) and he goes missing (taken by the evil government?) and the boy has to find him.

There is a scene where the boy is at school and is sent to the school counselor or doctor to be given an anti-depressant or tranquilizer pill, the counselor (a male) is sympathetic to the boy and tries to help him and the girl to find the boy's father (and possibly the girl's parents too?). There was also a scene where the boy and girl go to an abandoned building/warehouse to meet someone who can give them information on their parents (maybe they meet each other for the first time at the building?). It seems like there was also a mention of golf clubs in relation to the boy's father and a mention of Crackerjack rings in relation to the girl, but I know a Crackerjack ring played a part in another book I read around the same time so I could be confused:).

Sorry this is so long, I only read part of the book and would like to find out how it ends.

  • MY Goodness... I remember reading this book as a kid but also could never remember the name of it as an adult so I just did a seach. My google search for "sci fi book with the garden under the refrigerator" turned me to this post. Ain't the internet awesome?!
    – user10832
    Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 22:27
  • That sounds VERY familiar. I remember a particularly poignant scene in which one of them (the girl?) had a breakfast of real food from the garden and wept because it was so good.
    – Matt
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 22:50
  • Goodness I have been looking for this book for a looong time. Since I read it when I was in the 7th grade around about 1981. I remember the garden in the basement and the earth in the walls...that an inspector mentioned about it being so quiet. But I also remember him taking or being offered a tranquilizer/anti-depressant called "force 5" and the person saying, "Dont want to get hooked on these things but..." shrug OMG guys. What a blast from the past. Thanks so much for your awesome memory! Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


Sounds very much like a YA book I read years ago called The Missing Persons League (Amazon link) by Frank Bonham.

Other aspects of the story ... without giving away spoilers ...

... disposal of dirt excavated from under the house might have given away their illegal garden, so they packed it into the walls of their house, with the unfortunate side effect that it was suspiciously quiet inside.

... public "vending machines" for fresh oxygen for when you became short of breath. The main character also had one in his kitchen, though he didn't use it often because of the fresh air around the garden.

... persistent and widespread problems with air pollution

... a mystery involving mercury

  • Thanks! This sounds right, it's been bugging me forever and googling was no help! :)
    – MaraJ
    Commented Aug 6, 2011 at 3:45
  • That's the one, I remember it clearly. One memorable line: "They're putting too much water in the chlorine these days."
    – Tom Zych
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 2:26
  • Oh, my goodness! I had been trying to find this one, too! I thought I had saved this in my box of favorite childhood books, but it wasn't there! Thank you! I have now found it on Goodreads! goodreads.com/book/show/527452.The_Missing_Persons_League
    – bhansai
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 19:10

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