I am looking for a young adult book, probably written in the late 60's to mid 70's, it was a dystopian future where people seemed to be set in for specific roles. The main character, a boy, wanted to be a farmer or gardener, while society was dictating he should be something else. There was something about a food shortage, or control of food, such that him being a farmer or gardener was somehow forbidden. I can't really recall more than that. Mostly the story was about how the boy learned secretly how to raise plants and with another (perhaps a girl) escaped the place he lived.

I know not much to go on, but it's one I recall liking when I was young but can't remember more of the story.


3 Answers 3


Sounds like it could be Frank Bonham's The Missing Person's League, first published in 1976:

  • In a dying, resource-starved world, food production is strictly controlled, and private food growing is prohibited

  • The protagonist and his father create a secret garden below their house (having stored the excavated soil in the walls) and have encounters with a investigating resource policeman.

  • He meets a girl who is the key to the larger plot (the mysterious disappearances of large numbers of people)

Eventually, we learn the reason for the disappearances, and they escape:

The disappeared people have actually been recruited to enter suspended animation in hidden bunkers; they will emerge after the ecosystem has re-established itself following a mass extinction

I enjoyed it as a youth, though I recall there are a couple of plot points that seemed hokey, particularly the

hypnotic mind-control of the girl and the ending with the bad guys meeting their end in an Indiana Jones-style facemelting booby-trap

  • This is it, the secret garden part is what I remember. Forgot the suspended animation part, but that is the end and the synopsis matches. Thanks!
    – MichaelF
    Sep 14, 2014 at 9:49

Possibly Robert A. Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky

farmer-1 farmer-2 farmer-3 farmer-4 enter image description here

There are a LOT of different covers for this book. Above are a few of the older ones.

The Earth is crowded and food is rationed, but a colony on Ganymede, one of the moons of Jupiter, offers an escape for teenager Bill Lermer and his family. Back on Earth, the move sounded like a grand adventure, but Bill soon realizes that life on the frontier is dangerous, and in an alien world with no safety nets, nature is cruelly unforgiving of even small mistakes. Bill’s new home is a world of unearthly wonders—and heartbreaking tragedy. He will face hardships, survive dangers, and grow up fast, meeting the challenge of opening up a new world for humanity and finding strengths within himself that he had never suspected existed.

  • That does match the 'farmer' criterion, but little else. Have you read it recently?
    – SQB
    Sep 14, 2014 at 6:09
  • Also, I'm not sure what it accomplishes to post all those covers
    – Valorum
    Sep 14, 2014 at 9:19
  • I'd remember Heinlein, besides there wasn't any off world in the story I remember. An interesting read though.
    – MichaelF
    Sep 14, 2014 at 10:08
  • 3
    @Richard: When trying to remember a book from years ago, covers are often the thing people remember best (Sometimes the only thing).In this case there are a lot of covers - which one might help the OP? I chose a few that looked like they might be from the right time-frame. At least they're not page-filling images, at least not on my screen.
    – Joe L.
    Sep 14, 2014 at 14:50
  • @JoeL. - They're more obtrusive on mobile
    – Valorum
    Sep 14, 2014 at 14:51

It's a short story called, Brian's world.

  • 4
    Can provide any more details? For example, some quotes or reviews that show how this matches the question?
    – Adamant
    Oct 1, 2016 at 21:03

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