Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, January 13, 2014

FallOut by Todd Strasser...

How I Heard About It:  My school librarian received a collection of new books that had been reviewed by a local paper here in town.  She asked if I wanted to take some of the titles home over the holiday break to read.  This was one title I grabbed, but didn't get to it until the week after break. 

What It Is About: 
This historical fiction story takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the summer of 1962.  Kennedy is President.  There is tension with Russia.  The citizens of the United States are uneasy.  The main character Scott is 11 years old and in fifth grade.  His father is taking the "nuclear bomb threat" quite serious and has decided to build a bomb shelter in their backyard.  Scott's friends and the neighbors aren't quite sure what to think of this as they don't think it is necessary.  In comes the fiction aspect.  The sirens have been alarmed and the residents know the worst scenario has come true.  The bomb has been dropped on the United States.   As Scott's family heads to the shelter (built for four people), some of the neighbors rush over and want to enter the shelter with them.  Scott's dad knows it is only fit and prepared for their own family, but how do you turn away other people.  Through some confusion and hard decisions, ten people end up in the shelter together.  The rest of the story tells about their survival, their anguish, and the interactions between these ten people. 

What I Thought Of It:   I have very mixed feelings about this book.  At first I loved it and thought it would either be a read aloud or book club selection for my 4th graders.  As I got further into the novel, I knew it wasn't for my students.  According to Amazon this book is geared toward readers ages 10 and up (grades 5 and up).  I disagree.  I kept getting distracted by some of the mature themes, words, concepts, and ideas that were presented in this story.  It disturbed me and took away from the actual story.  Once I decided that this is more of a middle-school and/or high school book, I began to enjoy it more.  The plot was quite intense dealing with the lives of these people that were stuck together in a bomb shelter.  There were times when it was heart-wrenching to read, but it needed to be because of the subject matter. 

Who Should Read It:  I have already addressed this question.  For me, this is definitely a novel that should be read by middle-school readers or above.  It might even be more geared toward high school readers.  There are some mature themes, language, and conversations used throughout this book.  As an adult reader, I think other adult readers will enjoy this story, especially if they were growing up during this time in our history. 

Rating:  3 STARS out of 5 Stars

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