“Exciting, harrowing … This is a superb entertainment … It thrums along with finely wrought atmosphere and gripping suspense…” – THE NEW YORK TIMES
"A Must-Read Middle School Book" -- School Library Journal
ALA BEST BOOK FOR TEENS/ BEST BOOK FOR RELUCTANT READERS/ IRA YOUNG ADULTS' CHOICE/BANK STREET BEST OF YEAR, AGES NINE-TWELVE
"This riveting examination of things important to a boy suddenly thrust into an adult catastrophe is un-put-down-able. " -- KIRKUS [Starred review]
"A gripping and superbly constructed novel... There's not a word out of place in this evocative book." --- THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
At the height of the Cold War my father gave me a remarkable gift, although many decades would pass before I would realize it. By having a bomb shelter built under our home, he provided me with the unique experience that is the basis for FALLOUT.
The book is part memoir and part speculative fiction. It is rooted in my experience as a twelve-year-old boy living through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 when our family was the only one in town who actually had a full-scale bomb shelter built beneath our house. Thus, I not only worried along with everyone else in our country about the very real possibility of a nuclear World War Three, but I had to worry about trying to survive in our shelter as well.
Many of my anxieties concerned the possibility that a war might start while my father was off at work in New York City, and therefore too far away to get home before the bombs fell. In that case:
1) Would there be time for me to run home from school before the bombs fell?
2) Since everyone in town knew we had a bomb shelter, would others get there first and demand to be allowed in?
3) What if my mother, brother and I got inside and our neighbors came and wanted us to let them in?
4) How would we know how long to stay in the shelter?
5) What would we do when we got out?
These worries mixed with and influenced many of the other insecurities that boys that age feel – about relationships, sex, athletics, and school.As a result, FALLOUT is partly the story of what really happened, and partly about what could have happened. As a memoir, it is a recollection of a young man growing up in a world that may face destruction at any time. As speculative fiction it is an exploration of what well might have occurred had there really been a nuclear war.
And finally, I hope that, in its own small way, it is a celebration of life in the face of adversity.