Sunday, January 20, 2008


Trudy Krisher
Holiday House, 2006

Set during the McCarthy Era, Fallout is the story of Genevieve, a girl from the coast of North Carolina. Her father is an ardent supporter of McCarthy and her mother tolerates him. Their furniture is covered in plastic, and that image pretty much expresses the family dynamic. Genevieve’s best friend has moved away and her mother is eager for her to make new friends. Hurricanes are battering the North Carolina coast, creating a different sort of fallout than Genevieve is learning about during her Civil Defense classes. Enter Brenda Wompers, a new girl from California whose views certainly don’t mirror those of the community. Brenda questions the instructor during Civil Defense class, asking why they needed to have duck-and-cover drills when there is no way anyone would survive a nuclear war. When Genevieve’s teacher assigns Brenda to be her tutor in math, she is not thrilled. She is already friendless – having someone the rest of the school thinks as different will not earn her any new friends. As she and Brenda become close, however, she begins to question some of the beliefs she has grown up with.

Brenda and her parents are not quiet about their beliefs and they challenge the school’s teachings more than once. It is inevitable, perhaps, that they are labeled communists and from that point the writing is on the wall as to whether their business will succeed.

There is a lot to like about this book. The characters are well rounded and they all have their share of flaws. I especially liked that Brenda and her family are not simply the victims in the plot – they have their own flaws which create many of their predicaments. I also like the background that the hurricanes create. Being from North Carolina and having a sister who lives at the coast, I am quite familiar with the feeling that there’s a bulls-eye on your town.

I don’t think that this is a book for everyone, but I do think, that with some booktalking, students at my school will enjoy it.

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