Book Review: Countdown by Deborah Wiles

COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles
Publication Date: May 1, 2010 by Scholastic Press
Rating: StarStar

Summary: It’s 1962, and it seems everyone is living in fear. Twelve-year-old Franny Chapman lives with her family in Washington, DC, during the days surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. Amidst the pervasive threat of nuclear war, Franny must face the tension between herself and her younger brother, figure out where she fits in with her family, and look beyond outward appearances. For Franny, as for all Americans, it’s going to be a formative year.

Review Overview:

  • Reminded me of history class – not a good thing
  • Cold War is my least favorite part of history
  • Interesting and original format but the story was not compelling

First of all, I should start off with the fact that I couldn’t finish this book. I got about halfway through until I decided that I shouldn’t be forcing myself to continue just for the sake of finishing the book. COUNTDOWN is told in an interesting format, similar to a documentary complete with photographs, lyrics, and quotes from famous politicians. The Cold War is probably my least favorite part of American history and I was hoping that this book would make it enjoyable for me. It did not. I felt like I was being pulled into another long history lecture about the Cold War and a brief rundown on what exactly was happening throughout the world. Yawn.

COUNTDOWN is most definitely a middle-grade novel. I have read a few middle grade novels recently. but I could not quite connect with this one like I had with others (After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick). My inner child couldn’t relate to Franny and her problems.

I can see COUNTDOWN being used in the classroom. It’s historically accurate, informative, and hopefully some kids will relate to it. The pictures are a nice break from the novel but are also very complimentary. I would have liked to have enjoyed this book, but I really just couldn’t get into it.

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