Sunday, August 15, 2010

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

1962. JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis provide the backdrop for Franny Chapman's life. Her father is a pilot in the Air Force, and the reality of war is one that she lives with every day. Her mother tries to keep the family unit functioning when her husband is out of town. Her great-uncle Otts seems to dip in and out of reality and becomes something of a neighbourhood joke. Her younger brother, Mr. Perfect, is astronaut obsessed, and other college-aged sister is starting to break away from the family. Adding in classroom worries, friendship troubles, the return of a really attractive guy, and the constant threat of imminent nuclear danger, and Franny has a lot of things going on in her life.

I was really looking forward to picking this book up because it has been getting a lot of great press (and even has been mentioned as a possible Newbery contender). I loved Franny's voice and perspective as she tries to deal with the very grown up things happening around her. I have never had to live in a place where I felt constantly under threat. The closest I felt was in 2003, when the US was going to war in Iraq, and there was such uncertainty over what was going to happen. I remember waking up in the morning and being scared about the possibilities. And I was much older than Franny at the time. I loved the individual relationships she has with everyone in her family, especially with her sister and her brother. The book itself is interesting as an object; the text often cuts to photographs, news headlines, and song lyrics from the time. The book indicates that this is book one in a trilogy, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the next chapter.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your President by Josh Lieb
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? by Ellen Emerson White
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
The Fire-eaters by David Almond
Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

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