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Elaine D Walsh

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Member Since: Jun, 2012

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Atomic Summer
by Elaine D Walsh   

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Publisher:  Barks Out Loud ISBN-10:  0985566302 Type: 


ISBN-13:  9780985566302

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Elaine D Walsh, women's fiction author

Three friends, two lies, one secret, and the summer that changed their lives.

In 1953, three teenage girls’ innocent conversations about what each of them would do if the end of the world were imminent, coupled with a friend’s obsession, become the catalyst for a prank that spins wildly beyond control and draws in an entire town.  Left behind in the wake of that summer’s events are their unrealized dreams and open wounds.  In 1973, a reunion trip to the small town of their youths returns them to the summer of 1953 and the passion and betrayal that changed their lives.

The world is ripe for destruction in 1953.  The Korean War drags on and the Rosenbergs are executed as spies.  Senator Joseph McCarthy convinces the country communists are infiltrating the government, and the threat of nuclear war festered in the collective consciousness of the nation.  While American’s constructed backyard bomb shelters, the government conducted nuclear tests in the dessert. 

Women’s Fiction Author, Elaine D. Walsh, captures the anxiety of the times and draws the reader in with rich characters that linger longer after the story ends.  

I dislike peaches. Cling, whole, half, frozen, or in pies. It doesn’t matter what kind or any way they’re served, they’re still peaches. Savannah Vaughn served peaches twelve months of the year. She was vain about her peaches. Truth be told, she was vain about everything. Her appearance. Her money. Her home. Even her Cadillac. I imagine she figured anything that touched her life others desired for their own. That extended right down to her peaches.

In the winter when a primer coat of snow dusted Port Pompeii, every living soul contemplated how many inches we’d be digging out of in a few hours; all the while hoping the electricity would hold up to the storm. Except Savannah Vaughn. She thought about peaches. Before the snowfall buried the cellar door, she would send Bernadette and Peter out to their bomb shelter to fetch jars she had canned in the spring. Then she would go about making peach pie in the middle of a snowstorm. I knew not to be caught at the Vaughn’s house when the snow was getting deep enough to provoke a “might as well stay here until the weather passes”.

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Reader Reviews for "Atomic Summer"

Reviewed by Dana Hughes 6/19/2012
This book is a fun summer read. It’s one of those stories that you can sit by the pool or on the beach or anywhere you can curl up for a few hours and escape for some R&R reading enjoyment. The first lines intrigued me and from there I kept turning the pages to see what came next and I was not disappointed.
The story opens in 1973 with a brief flashback from Faith, who is one of the main characters. She is traveling back to her hometown for a reunion where she will be reunited with her girlhood friends in the small town in upstate New York where she grew up. Something happened that summer that changed her life and the lives of her friends. The way the writer sets up the opening scene made me want to find out. In other words, I was hooked! I didn’t have to give it a few chapters to see if I was interested in turning the pages.
The story immediately jumps to 1953. Bernadette, who is Faith’s best friend, is holding court in her family’s bomb shelter. It is 1953 for goodness sakes and the communist “red scare” is in full flight, so what a perfect place for teenagers to hang out, cool off, grow up and grow bored. Bernadette is obsessed with boys. They aren’t quite as enamored with her and who can blame them. She is a narcissist you just want to reach in to the pages and slap. I love it when a character drums up emotion in me, both good and bad. Well, Bernadette doesn’t hide her interest for Faith’s boyfriend which sets up a nice conflict between these supposed best friends. But Faith is too naïve and too good of a friend to do what I would have done which is punch Bernadette right in the kisser. Then there’s the ugly duckling third wheel friend Octavia who you find yourself rooting for as she struggles to step out of the dark shadows of her troubled family.
Besides the story’s main characters Faith, Bernadette and Octavia (which BTW, the point of view shifts between Faith and Octavia which makes for interesting story telling), there is the over the top, self proclaimed southern belle matriarch of Bernadette’s family, giving the reader insight as to why Bernadette is the overbearing girl she is. And wait until you meet the mysterious Reverend Flews. Add two teenage boys to this stew of a story to spice it. There’s a lot to taste as you slurp from the author’s spoon and find yourself trying to figure out all of the ingredients that go into this coming of age story.
The author’s tag line is “THREE friends, TWO secrets, ONE lie, and the summer that changed their lives”. The author leaves breadcrumbs to follow one secret while she slowly reveals another and the euphoric and heart wrenching impact of each one. And the lie that becomes blatantly clear early on what it is and who is telling it and the entire community gets sucked in to it. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive”. It is deliciously tangled and the next best seller in my eyes.

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