Truth and fiction blur after Laura Ratliff wins a walk-on role in a Hollywood nuclear disaster film set in her small town.
Living on the nukemap—one of the top Soviet nuclear targets in the U.S.—leaves Laura more than a little bit anxious. It’s 1984, her junior year of high school, and the threat of “Mutually Assured Destruction” is on everyone’s mind. To make matters worse, Laura’s mother (who is white like Laura) had an affair with and later married a black man. The scandal was the talk of Griffin Flat, Arkansas, population 8,000, but one good thing that came out of it was her stepbrother, Terrence. Since the divorce, Laura rarely sees her father, a member of a special Air Force squadron responsible for intercontinental ballistic missile sites. Things seem to be looking up after Laura wins a local radio contest and a small part in Eve of Destruction, bringing Terrence along as her invited guest. Then Laura’s father begins making strange phone calls. This tragicomic story of Laura and her motley crew is a page-turner from start to finish. Laura’s penchant for pop culture, history, and science trivia, presented in explanatory footnotes throughout, brings the late Cold War–era to life. A clever, superbly written, laugh-out-loud-hilarious story within a story and movie within a movie about nuclear war anxiety in small-town America.
You might not learn to love the bomb, but you will love this book. (Fiction. 14-adult)