Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: Countdown

After my extreme disappointment over the Newbery winner, Criss Cross, I am wondering why this book by Deborah Wiles didn't rack up any awards. While both Criss Cross and Countdown take place in the 1960's, this book offers a far more interesting, detailed, and engaging story than found in Criss Cross. It was extremely well done and I cannot praise it enough.

Wiles skillfully weaves a story of a conflict between Franny Chapman and her neighbor and long-time best friend, Margie, into the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. I'm so glad I listened to this in audio form, because I think it thoroughly enhanced the scrapbook feel of the book. In between portions of narrative, you hear snippets of news bites, song lyrics, and advertisements of the time. With a prevailing theme of what to do in case of an atomic bomb detonation ("duck and cover"), the various soundbites enhance the suspense of the story and the emotional pull of both internal and external conflict. This was a tense moment in history, and the story of Frannie and Margie parallels the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. The takeaway was extremely valuable as the reader is reminded that our humanity unites us and it is imperative to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.

The Amazon link identifies Countdown as the first in the Sixties Trilogy. Therefore, I am assuming there will be two more similar books available. The second book, called Revolution, which came out last year, apparently highlights the "Freedom Summer." I was thrilled to discover that our library has that book in audio form as well (and that book also includes snippets of historic coverage).

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