The Arkansas town of Griffin Flat lives in the shadow of a nuclear facility. It’s the 80s and Laura is convinced the Soviet Union will bomb America, living in fear of the end of the world. It’s only natural considering where she lives and what her dad works on. One of her favourite books is The Eve of Destruction, about a nuclear accident in a town much like hers… and Hollywood is adapting it right there in Griffin Flat.
I so wanted to love this book, there’s so much nuclear nerdery in it. I won’t say as much as the official blurb does because it mentions an event that takes place nearly at the end of the book. So I was reading expecting something to happen and then the big event was so rushed. Seriously publishers, if an event doesn’t happen in the first 100 pages, don’t put it on the cover.
Laura wins a radio contest to star in the film, and much of it is about the anticipation of Hollywood coming to town. The narrative is interspersed with news articles and FEMA instructions (in case of nuclear detonation). There were great historical details, like people painting their houses white because they thought it would deflect the radiation. I also know that America had many close calls and it is not absurd to imagine them nuking themselves.
I’m really not sure what was going on with the side story of Laura’s family. Her mother had an affair with black man, who she then married, so Lauren’s step-brother is black, something she points out a lot. Maybe the author wanted to highlight the racism of the time, his presence is an inconvenience to the film-makers because now they have to justify a black person in the film. It just all feels a bit awkwardly inserted.
After the big event happens, it came across as a bit flippant. I dunno, was she trying to make light of a horrible thing? Why did no one notice it was happening? I’m not sure given the circumstances what happened afterwards was very accurate, biologically. And in the follow-up bit, there was no mention of any ongoing effects.
I picked this as my fiction pairing to read with a non-fiction book for Around the Year, so at least I can look forward something which takes its subject matter seriously. I’m going to pair it with either Command and Control or Full Body Burden.
ATY: 7. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #1
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Book Source: Borrowed from library
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