Booklist gave this a starred review. It’s an excellent story of growing up in the 60s during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Fifth grader Franny lives with her parents, great Uncle Otts, younger brother and older sister in suburban Maryland just outside Andrews Air Force Base. Her father is a pilot for Air Force One. In the midst of all the regular pitfalls of growing up, Franny is worried about her older sister Jo Ellen who is acting strange, the strained relationship with her best friend Margie (who suddenly doesn’t want to be her best friend anymore), and her somewhat addled great uncle Otts. Don’t forget the cute boy down the street and the ever present threat of a nuclear attack. When not navigating the pitfalls of adolescence, Franny writes letters to Khrushchev, spies on her older sister, and tries to figure out why her teacher skips her for reading aloud. This straightforward historical fiction has the feel of a young girl’s memoir rather than a made up story. The story is punctuated with newspaper clippings, advertisements, news broadcasts and historical memorabilia. This all blends together to give the reader a real sense of the time in which Franny lives. Fans of Wiles’ down home southern stories will not find the same folksy story here, but readers will be engrossed by the personalization of some of the major events of this turbulent time period in American history.
Recommended for grades 6th and up.