Countdown: A Novel. By Deborah Wiles. 2010. Scholastic Press. ISBN 978-0-545-10605-4Imagine what your life would be like if the U.S. was under threat of a nuclear attack. How would you feel?This actually happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Countdown: A Novel by Deborah Wiles is based on the author’s experience growing up in the early 60’s when Russia had nuclear missiles in Cuba, which is within “striking distance” of the U.S.This novel is really cool because in a clever and unique way, it gives us a window into what it was like during that very intense time in America. It’s part novel, part scrapbook. Throughout the book, there are cartoons, newspaper headlines, lyrics to songs, black-and-white photographs, and other cool items from that time period that make the book really come alive.The main character, Franny, lives near a military base just outside of Washington, D. C. Her Dad is a pilot in the Air Force, her activist-older sister is suspected of being a spy, her younger brother is “perfect”, her Mom is a chain-smoking nervous wreck, her Uncle is a World War I veteran that embarrasses her, and her best friend and her are having major issues. Franny’s story will be enjoyed by a variety of people.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Themes: Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, family, 1960’s, Kennedy, Russia, Cuba, nuclear disaster
Reading level: 4.4
Interest level: Grades 5-8
Link to Harvest Park Library catalog: Countdown