Fallout by Todd Strasser

Title: Fallout
Author: Todd Strasser
Publisher: Candlewick
Expected Release: September 10, 2013
Source: publisher (won during Armchair BEA)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Fallout website (for further resources)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

What if the bomb had actually been dropped? What if your family was the only one with a shelter?

In the summer of 1962, the possibility of nuclear war is all anyone talks about. But Scott’s dad is the only one in the neighborhood who actually prepares for the worst. As the neighbors scoff, he builds a bomb shelter to hold his family and stocks it with just enough supplies to keep the four of them alive for two critical weeks. In the middle of the night in late October, when the unthinkable happens, those same neighbors force their way into the shelter before Scott’s dad can shut the door. With not enough room, not enough food, and not enough air, life inside the shelter is filthy, physically draining, and emotionally fraught. But even worse is the question of what will — and won’t — remain when the door is opened again. Internationally best-selling author Todd Strasser has written his most impressive and personal novel to date, ruthlessly yet sensitively exploring the terrifying what-ifs of one of the most explosive moments in human history.

Todd Strasser’s Fallout is told from the point-of-view of 11-year-old Scott, giving insight into the same fears held by generations of Cold War children.

I couldn’t help but think of my own parents telling me about the “duck and cover” drills they went through during their school years. Readers are privy to the rabbit trails that take place in Scott’s mind as he considers: Could we really be bombed? What would happen, exactly? What if I’m not with my family? How will we survive? What if…?

Geared for ages 10 and up, the events and the emotions involved in Fallout are vividly brought to life in an age-appropriate way. Readers encounter a rich vocabulary and a healthy dose of history, handled in a way kids will find (if they recognize it at all) entertaining. This can be a difficult balance to achieve, but it seems to come about naturally in Strasser’s writing.

From beginning to end, I was absolutely riveted by Fallout and read it pretty much straight through. This is a thrilling middle-grade novel that brings up endless points for discussion, whether learning more about the Cuban Missile Crisis or addressing the ethical questions that arise in the storyline.

The book’s website contains a number of resources for use in educational settings and reading groups, so teachers/parents, be sure to check that out.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher after winning a prize during Armchair BEA. A review was not requested or expected; I did not receive any compensation for this honest review.