⭐⭐⭐ 1/2 

Deborah Wiles

Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that’s hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall.

It’s 1962, and it seems that the whole country is living in fear. When President Kennedy goes on television to say that Russia is sending nuclear missiles to Cuba, it only gets worse. Franny doesn’t know how to deal with what’s going on in the world — no more than she knows how to deal with what’s going on with her family and friends. But somehow she’s got to make it through.

Featuring a captivating story interspersed with footage from 1962, award-winning author Deborah Wiles has created a documentary novel that will put you right alongside Franny as she navigates a dangerous time in both her history and our history. 

My Thoughts:

This was another book that caught my eye as I was shelving books in my library. Countdown is set in 1962 and it was like entering another world for me. I wasn’t born until the late 1970’s and was 11 (same age as the main character) when the Berlin Wall came down so I don’t remember Russia (then the USSR) being an overwhelmingly looming threat. Wiles does a great job creating Franny’s world and the pages of propaganda and ads from that time period is a wonderful addition. It really cements the feel and climate of the 1960’s in the reader’s mind. Smoking, bomb shelters, duck and cover drills, race issues, women’s issues, etc were a daily part of the 1960’s.  While Franny and her family are worrying about Russia, Cuba, you also see that life goes on. Friend drama, family issues, etc. You see Franny grow up a bit through the book.  The only drawback to the book is you never find out what Jo Ellen’s secret is. It’s alluded to, and adults reading will have a pretty good idea, but I’m not sure the target audience of the book will figure it out and they will be left hanging. This is the first book of The Sixties Trilogy and I’m looking forward to reading the other two. 

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