Tuesday, September 23, 2014


This is a compelling "what if" story.  During the 1960's the United States and Russia were stockpiling nuclear weapons in an effort to intimidate each other.  This all came to a head during the Bay of Pigs crisis when Russia placed missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States.  In reality, both sides backed down, and nuclear catastrophe was avoided.

Fallout is Todd Strasser's imagining of what might have happened if Russia had dropped the bomb.

Scott's dad decides to build a bomb shelter in the back yard just in case.  This causes a lot of laughter and derision from his neighbors who don't think World War III is going to happen, but Scott's dad just wants to be prepared.

When it does happen, those same people who laughed at his family are fighting their way into the shelter.  But Scott's father has only stocked enough food for four people.  Can ten people survive on food for four long enough for the radiation levels to drop?  To make matters worse, Scott's mother slipped when she was climbing into the shelter and smacked her head on the ground.  Now she seems to be in a coma, and there is a lot of blood.

Scott has never seen the adults in his neighborhood fight before, but being locked in the shelter is bringing out the worst in everyone.  Underneath the fighting and the hunger is the nagging thought of all the people who probably didn't survive.  The book alternates between the present in the shelter and the past in the months leading up to the bomb.  This puts the loss of all the friends and teachers who were part of Scott's life before in context.

This would be a great book for discussion and an interesting paring with The Diary of Anne Frank.

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