Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Nomansland / by Lesley Hauge


Title: Nomansland
Author: Lesley Hauge
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9064-2
Year: 2010

Economic concepts: scarcity, interdependence, trade, exchange

Review:  Ever since the devastation caused by the Tribulation, women on the isolated island of Foundland had lived a life of subsistence farming in a self-supported community that excluded men. Their specially-trained trackers learned to defend the island from male invaders, and any male infants produced through the carefully-monitored reproductive process were abandoned.  To further protect their island, the leaders of Foundland had created an extremely strict set of rules to ensure toughness, discipline, hard work, and focus in the younger cohorts of girls. 

Despite the non-stop oversight and harsh punishment, Keller and the other young trackers found small ways to break the rules and engage in some of the trivialities that they, as teenagers, craved. These small indulgences turned into a major transgression when they unearthed a home from the Time Before, filled with all sorts of objects that fascinated them, including make-up, magazines, equipment, and clothing of long-ago fabrics and styles. Their discovery set in motion a dangerous interplay of challenging the existing order while trying to have some innocent fun.

This post-apocalyptic novel presents an interesting set of issues about people’s social interactions and their use of material things to establish their identities.  Underlying these ideas, however, is a fundamental economics question about the role of trade and interdependence in moving beyond self-sufficiency and a limited means of survival.  This question turns out to be a driving force behind the sometimes contradictory actions of the Foundland leaders in their quest to protect the all-female status-quo.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Children and Economics

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