Synopsis: Nuclear War had happened. No one is prepared, Sarah and her family with no knowledge are trying to survive after surviving the initial blast and shockwave . This book in three parts charts the events for a group of interconnected young people across three Generations as they weather the detonation, rebuilding and seek renewal and renewal.
A short book, one you can comfortably read in one sitting. Sarah Lawrence writes one of the most powerful books for children I have ever read. This is the very first Dystopian novel I ever was exposed to and it has echoed into every single one I have gone on to read subsequently.
As an adult ,It is a no holds barred exploration of the lack of power we have as civilians if our elected representatives allow that fateful button to be pressed. As a child it was the incarceration that affected me, the claustrophobia of a family being trapped in a room trying to avoid the radiation, barricading windows with mattresses and bin bags and naive realisation that it had been pointless as radiation sickness began to strike Sarah's family down.
The two following parts are at once horrific and yet hopeful. This is a children's book, but it is not innocent and it never seeks to soften the realities of what might happen if bombs are ever released again. The future Lawrence envisions is advanced in some respects, but also reverts back to a less sophisticated and more visceral existence that leaves me pondering whether the Great Britain of 2016 actually any safer than the Britain of the 1980s where the fears of the Cold War, from which crucible of ideas and mistrust this book is actually born.
If you are a fan of Dystopian tales, you should definitely add this to your repertoire, it is not as lush as Oryx and Crake, which is another book on my top twenty list, there are no love triangles or fights to the death against simulated foes in barren or simulated landscapes, but it is the familiarity of the setting which to my mind makes it even more resonant and so lingers longer in the mind.
It is ideas rich but simply formulated which means it is very ,very accessible.
Why is this in my Top 20 ?
I cite my teacher Mrs Mutton who when I was about nine decided that she would read this book to us before home time every day. Sadly for me, my class was a naughty little group so she never got further than Sarah's story, so with it's echoes rearing it's head more and more as I read the Hunger Games and Divergent Trilogies, I decided to read it in it's entirety two years ago at age thirty nine.
It becomes an instant classic and a book I would set as required reading for every young person, it is they who ultimately will shoulder the burden of avoiding a similar confluence of events in the future.