Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Fallout

May1

It is insane that two men, sitting on opposite sides of the world should be able to decide to bring an end to civilization.
John F. Kennedy on the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 27, 1962

falloutThe Merriam Webster Dictionary defines fallout in two ways. The first definition is “the radioactive particles that are produced by a nuclear explosion and that fall through the atmosphere”. The second is “a bad effect or result of something”. Both of these descriptions are directly related to Todd Strasser’s gripping novel for middle schoolers, Fallout (Candlewick, 2013).

Strasser’s premise is that it is 1962, and a nuclear bomb is dropped on America during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He tells the story through the eyes of an adolescent boy whose father is the only one in his neighborhood who has constructed a bomb shelter. Even though he was ridiculed by his neighbors, Scott’s father stocked his shelter with enough supplies to keep his family of four alive for two weeks.

When the unthinkable happens and the warning sirens pierce the night, Scott, his brother, his parents, and their maid head down through the metal trap door to the enclosure and safety. Neighbors clamor to get in with them and some succeed before the door is secured. Others bang and beg to be let in, but then there is a terrible blast and silence outside.

The electricity is cut off, and there are not enough supplies for everyone who made it to the shelter. Conditions worsen by the day, and moral questions are raised. What will it be like when they leave the shelter? Should everyone be allowed to remain in it for the duration, or should some people be put out? Scott’s mother was badly injured during the struggle, and she lies unconscious, what will happen to her?

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