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Fallout
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Fallout
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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...
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...
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  • 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.

 

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About the Author-

  • Shortly after I was born in New York City, my parents moved to Roslyn Heights, New York (Long Island). In school my best subject was science. I had difficulty learning to read, and I still struggle with spelling and grammar. Despite those challenges I am now an avid reader.

    I went to college for a few years, and then dropped out. I lived on a commune, then lived in Europe where I was a street musician. All the while, I wrote songs and poems and lots of letters to friends back home. After returning to the United States I studied literature and writing at Beloit College.

    After college, I worked as a reporter at the Middletown Times Herald-Record newspaper in Middletown, New York, and later at Compton Advertising in New York City. In 1978, I sold my first novel, Angel Dust Blues, and used the money to start the Dr. Wing Tip Shoo fortune cookie company. For the next twelve years, I sold many more fortune cookies than books.

    In 1990, my family and I moved to Westchester County, New York. I now divide my time between writing books and speaking at schools and conferences. When I'm at home, I like to read, watch sports, spend time with my children, play tennis, ski, and surf.


    Fallout 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. What made this event unique for me was that 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 as well.

    Many of my anxieties concerned the possibility that a war might start while my father was at work, 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 war. And finally, I hope that, in its own small way, it is a celebration of life in the face of adversity.

    Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:

    1. I didn't start to surf until I was fifty-two years old.

    2. I can hang both ends of a spoon from my nose, but not at the same time.

    3. I share my writing space with a bison named Buffalo Bill.


    Stuff I'm Not Sure You Want To Know:

    1. Todd Strasser is the author of more than 140 books for teens and pre-teens. His award-winning young adult novels include The Accident, The Wave, Give a Boy a Gun, Boot Camp, and If I Grow Up. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and several have been adapted into feature films. He has also written for television, newspapers, and magazines such as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times. His most recent novels are the young adult thrillers Wish You Were Dead, Blood On My Hand...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 12, 2013
    Strasser (Kill You Last) brings readers to the 1960s Long Island of his youth, with one crucial difference: in this story, the Cuban Missile Crisis leads Russia to bomb the U.S. The plot alternates between two threads set before and after the bomb drops; in the immediate aftermath, 11-year-old Scott, his family, and a handful of neighbors endure the increasingly difficult conditions in the subterranean bomb shelter Scott’s father built, waiting for radiation levels to fall. The format allows Strasser to have the best of both worlds. In the “before” chapters, he presents a vision of life during the Cold War that feels ripped from personal memory as Scott grows aware of racial prejudice, the prevailing “us vs. them” mentality toward Russia, and his own nascent sexuality (“You want to die without ever seeing a breast?” Scott’s snide friend Ronnie asks). Meanwhile, the “after” chapters are claustrophobic, heartbreaking, and at times ugly as civility breaks down among the few adult and children survivors. An eye-opening “what if” scenario about the human response to disaster. Ages 10–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media.

  • DOGO Books gman - Great book but kinda scary !! not in a creepy way but about what happens in war
  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2013

    Gr 5-8-"Dad had a gun. Mom was letting us eat in the den. Could there be any clearer signs that the end of the world was approaching?" During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Scott's father builds a bomb shelter in their backyard. Most of the neighbors ridicule the idea, but the day the bombs do go off, those same neighbors try desperately to get into the shelter. A few of them do get in, along with Scott's family, while the rest perish outside. The extra people, along with the lack of supplies, make for cramped, uncomfortable conditions, and tempers flare. They might be safe now, but what awaits them if they ever leave? The chapters alternate between the current conditions in the shelter and the months leading up to the bombs dropping. Before, Scott lives a normal sixth-grader's life, but in the back of everyone's minds are the worries about the Russians and their nuclear missiles. Scott's friend Ronny challenges him to some neighborhood mischief, justifying it with, "We might not be here tomorrow." Eventually Scott and Ronny have a knock-down fight, stopping only when Scott's father pulls them apart. At the end of the story, the shelter's inhabitants leave to find what's left of their world. The alternating chapters might be confusing at first, but it doesn't take long to get into the rhythm. Enough background about the time period is woven into the story so children unfamiliar with the Cuban Missile Crisis will have a basic knowledge of what happened. A well-written, compelling story with an interesting twist on how history might have turned out.-Diana Pierce, formerly at Leander High School, TX

    Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2013
    Strasser once again combines terrific suspense with thoughtful depth when the bombs really do fall in this alternate-history Cuban missile crisis thriller. Eleven-year-old Scott's family becomes the laughingstock of their neighborhood when, worried about possible nuclear attack, they build a bomb shelter. However, when the Civil Defense siren sounds, sending them to the shelter, they can't keep their neighbors out, even though they have enough food for only their own family. In chapters that alternate between their time in the shelter and the weeks leading up to the attack, the story reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. Scott and his friend Ronnie, the rather nasty neighborhood smartass, continue their friendly rivalry in the shelter, while their parents reveal much about their own personalities. The book examines racism; when Scott's mother becomes so seriously injured that it seems she will not survive, their neighbor wants to put both her and the family's black maid out of the shelter to die. The author peppers the narrative with tidbits from the early '60s, such as Tang, MAD magazine and talk of "Ruskies," "Commies" and duck-and-cover school drills. Scott's believably childlike narration recounts events and adults' reactions to them as he understands them. This riveting examination of things important to a boy suddenly thrust into an adult catastrophe is un-put-down-able. (Thriller. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2013
    Grades 5-8 Inspired by the summer of 1962 when his family built a bomb shelter, Strasser's alternate-history novel about the Cuban missile crisis is a suspenseful, quietly emotional account of the unthinkable: nuclear war. Eleven-year-old Scott is the only kid on the block with a bomb shelter. Though the neighborhood kids tease, while their parents act disdainful, when the sirens sound, they mob the shelter and force their way in. After a furious struggle, during which Scott's mother is seriously injured, the shelter is sealed with 10 people inside, 6 more than planned for and with many more left outside. As time passes and the supplies dwindle, grief, guilt, and fear turn the relationships among the adults ugly, even sparking talks of who should be put out. Strasser nicely contrasts this oppressive life, where Scott becomes aware of adult conflicts, with his innocence during the weeks leading up to the bomb. The titular fallout isn't just the environmental aftermath of the nuclear bomb but the survivors' emotional devastation, believably filtered through Scott's sensitive but well-rendered child's perspective.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

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    Candlewick Press
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