Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Countdown by Deborah Wiles


Countdown
2010
This heavy book has been sitting on my desk looking at me for about 6 months.  I stuck it in my summer box, brought it home, read a bunch of other stuff and it still kept looking at me.  If I'd peeked inside I would have noticed the little typed line..."for the peacemakers," which would have piqued my interest.  That and the fact that it's about the 60's-the early years-should have captured me as well and once I did crack the cover I enjoyed every page-the story plus the memorabilia. 1962-the year I was born and Kennedy and Khrushchev battle it out through many conversations, each one not wanting to back down.

"The price of a gallon of gas rose to 31 cents today."

And the opening sentence: "I am eleven years old, and I am invisible."-not because she's in some deep depression but because Mrs. Rodriquez hasn't called on her to read-aloud in Social Studies.  Remember when those of us that were good readers loved round robin reading-we were thrilled to be called on and Franny is the same, she is mad and feels like she is being punished by her teacher.  She dangles herself out into the aisle, hoping Mrs. Rodriquez will realize her mistake.

Franny is a strong young female heroine trying to make sense of a world where her family struggles seem as large and confusing as the world struggles with Cuba, nuclear missiles and the idea that she has to be ready to duck and cover to save herself.  You should know this book will make you smarter-it has a lot of history in it-and it will make you understand why peace is so important.

Each of Franny's family member brings something to this story but much of the action stems from Uncle Otts, a veteran, suffering from shell-shock.  He can't seem to separate reality from his war experiences especially as the U.S. seems bent on stirring up trouble with Russia and Cuba.  Things keep flashing back for him and I found this story line interesting as we still struggle with this as soldiers come back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I read around a bit on Deborah Wiles' website and she's led and interesting life.  I look forward to others in this three part series.

2 comments:

  1. You guilted me into starting this one. I should finish it up today or tomorrow, but unfortunately the second one is not out yet. I am loving it, which I totally expected.

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  2. I have got to get this! I love things set in the 60's and your description of the story has convinced me it's a book I would enjoy.
    I'm off to see if the library has a copy.

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