by Deborah Wiles
Students who attend school in the United States today are familiar with bomb evacuation drills and intruder "lockdowns." In fact, for most of us, it’s routine. But what we are not familiar with is the threat of nuclear annihilation by the Soviet Union (a.k.a. Russia) on a daily basis. Franny, the protagonist in this novel, faces daily bomb education drills where she is instructed to "duck and cover" to defend herself against a nuclear attack. Franny lives in a military family; her dad is a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, and her Uncle a WWI veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress and who is the laughingstock of the neighborhood. Couple Franny’s fears with the fact that her best friend is one of the original "Mean Girls" and that her sister is hiding what could be dangerous secrets, Franny doesn’t know where she fits anymore. Looking through Franny’s eyes offers a marvelous flavor of the world in the 1960’s; the novel is filled with 1960’s poetry, songs, photographs from the period, and famous speeches. And yet the story does not read like a history lesson. Franny is a lovable, real character who is coming of age in a very scary time, and who faces her own crisis with incredible bravery and strength. Wiles plans on making this a trilogy, but I for one, think it stands solidly on its own.