professornana (professornana) wrote,

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1950s redux

FALLOUT by Trudy Krisher is one of a handful of books that are set in the era of McCarthy. Along with THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN by Karen Cushman and YOUR EYES LIKE STARS by M. E. Kerr, Krisher turns her eye to a time when calling someone a Communist was more than name calling; it could spell the end of a career. FALLOUT is the story of Gen, a young girl living in a North Carolina coastal town. Gen's best friend has moved and she feels cast adrift. Enter Brenda, the new girl. Brenda is unconventional to say the least. So are her parents, the Wompers. The family has relocated from Hollywood to North Carolina and are the proverbial fish out of water. Brenda and Gen become sort of friends despite their differences. Gen is attracted and repelled by Brenda and her eccentricities. However, Gen must ultimately make a choice: defend her friend and be labeled a Communist or turn her back and give in to peer pressure. Krisher handles this topic deftly. The challenges Gen faces are as real today as they were in the 1950s.

Perhaps this looking back at the time of witch hunts comes from having lived through some times recently where teachers were labeled terrorists by the former Secretary of Education and where we were told we were either for the war or we sided with our enemy. Such sharp divisions existed in the past. Have we forgotten those lessons so soon? Krisher makes sure we do not.

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