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A Place We Knew Well

A Place We Knew Well


A Place We Knew Well

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (11 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
9 ore
Pubblicato:
Sep 29, 2015
ISBN:
9781511300315
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

"Susan Carol McCarthy blends fact, memory, imagination and truth with admirable grace," said The Washington Post of the author's critically acclaimed debut novel, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands. Now McCarthy returns with another enthralling story of a family-their longings, their fears, and their secrets-swept up in the chaos at the height of the Cold War.

Late October, 1962. Wes Avery, a one-time Air Force tail-gunner, is living his version of the American Dream as loving husband to Sarah, doting father to seventeen-year-old Charlotte, and owner of a successful Texaco station along central Florida's busiest highway. But after President Kennedy announces that the Soviets have nuclear missiles in Cuba, Army convoys clog the highways and the sky fills with fighter planes. Within days, Wes's carefully constructed life begins to unravel.

Sarah, nervous and watchful, spends more and more time in the family's bomb shelter, slipping away into childhood memories and the dreams she once held for the future. Charlotte is wary but caught up in the excitement of high school-her nomination to homecoming court, the upcoming dance, and the thrill of first love. Wes, remembering his wartime experience, tries to keep his family's days as normal as possible, hoping to restore a sense of calm. But as the panic over the Missile Crisis rises, a long-buried secret threatens to push the Averys over the edge.

With heartbreaking clarity and compassion, Susan Carol McCarthy captures the shock and innocence, anxiety and fear, in those thirteen historic days, and brings vividly to life one ordinary family trying to hold center while the world around them falls apart.

Pubblicato:
Sep 29, 2015
ISBN:
9781511300315
Formato:
Audiolibro


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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    The Cuban missile crisis in 1962 was a time of great fear and apprehension in the United States, and that terror is perfectly captured in this novel about the Avery family in Orlando living through it. Their own family crisis coincides with the national emergency in unusual ways when an unexpected family member appears with a secret that has the power to destroy an already mentally fragile mother, their daughter, and a beleaguered husband who is doing his best to protect his wife and daughter.
  • (4/5)
    The author does a great job of showing how scary it was for the American citizens living in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I really enjoyed this book. We have easier access to the media and communications so whenever I read a book set back in the 1960's, I have to remind myself they didn't have cell phones and the internet so it was harder to get up-to-date information. Very well written.
  • (5/5)
    This is the first novel I've ever read that was set during the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and reading novels set during important historical events is one of my favorite ways of learning about them. The story centers around a family living in Florida during those events, so the massive buildup of U.S. military force is literally happening around them as they try at the same time to deal with more mundane issues -- nominations for Homecoming court, for example. The family drama is well-drawn, although I didn't like the intro chapter, which sets up the rest of the book as a kind of flashback. So if you start this, stick with it for a few chapters.

    There's also a B-story about mental illness here that I think is well done. I was reminded how scary that kind of thing could be, back when people mostly saw a regular GP for mental health issues, and prescriptions for uppers and downers flowed probably too freely.

    In short, all the characters really came to life in this novel, and it was set against an interesting historical backdrop, so I really enjoyed it AND felt like I got a bit of a history lesson at the same time.


    Note: I received a complimentary advance copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
  • (4/5)
    I really liked this Cold War novel. The history was interesting, but the psychology of living through such a crisis was even more so. The characters were likable, and the story line flowed well.
  • (5/5)
    This was a book I could not put down from page 1! The author really captured the setting and the characters drastically different thoughts of what was going on. I love any book that deals with a war theme and this by far is now one of my top 10 can't brag enough about this book!
  • (4/5)
    I received the book for free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers.I loved this book. The author did a tremendous job at capturing the fear of Americans during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I never realized just how terrifying that event was. The author also weaved in the family drama portion of the story really well.
  • (5/5)
    Outstanding! Excellent in all aspects of the word. From the first description of the Texaco gas station, a memory of the scent Orange Blossom popular at that time came to mind, and I was hooked by page four of the novel. I couldn't put it down, until I had read the entire novel. "A Place We Knew Well" by Susan Carol McCarthy is a story about an American family living the American dream in Florida in 1962, during the Cold War. I highly recommend this to any reader interested in the Cuban Missile Crisis, during the Kennedy period.I would like to thank Bantam for sending me this ARC for review through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
  • (5/5)
    I received an advanced copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is an excellent portrayal of a central Florida family in crisis and their reaction to the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962 as well as the reactions of their neighbors, friends, and the entire country. I was a senior in high school in 1962-63 living in a small town in West Central Wisconsin. I vividly remember the fear, the Civil Defense drills, and the volunteer ground observers who looked to the sky regularly reporting plane sightings. I also remember the bomb shelters and viewing many of them. Nearly every city government, school, and hospital built or created a bomb shelter, as did many private citizens. We were all on edge and this was the daily topic during Citizenship class. The author accurately portrays the fear, uncertainty, and helplessness we all felt as we watched and listened to the news on the television and radio. This is well-written historical fiction that realistically portrays the reactions of the American people to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 that everyone should read.
  • (3/5)
    This book tried to do many things, none of them thoroughly or in a particularly convincing fashion. It's a working class version of "Mad Men Does the Cuban Missile Crisis" - all of the stereotypes are hit. Cuban refugee with a heart of gold? Check! Humble gas station owner/mechanic dealing with gas shortages? Check! Depressed housewife with a lot of broken dreams? Check! I could go on, but you get the picture. It's a collection of cliches, none of them explored deeply or presented in a new light (or even an emotionally compelling one). The blue collar guy is a no-bullshit, honorable dude! The housewife is clearly addicted to the medication she's being overprescribed! As to the mechanics, they were fine. The writing is serviceable, but not of the quality I'd expect from a literary fiction writer with a couple books under her belt. The dialogue is especially clunky, as though McCarthy is aping 60s movies and TV shows but keeps forgetting herself and simply writing as she would speak in the present day. The book closes with several solid pages of historical exposition, I guess so the reader can feel like they've learned something. See? Not a complete waste of time!
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book, and I appreciated how much I learned about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I got a feeling for how desperate and scared people must have felt (and the comparison of Florida being so close to the nuclear threat and New York following 9-11 actually didn't feel off in this book.) The family drama was interesting and the WWII flashbacks were well drawn. Yet with as much as I liked, I just didn't love this book. Sometimes the way we got information about the CMC/WWII felt so expository that it took me out of the story. All those quotes from newscasters and politicians! In some ways it felt like the side story about Charlotte's history/homecoming was to make the book feel less Educational. I totally understood that being faced with a nuclear disaster made people look at their regrets (Kitty showing up after years, Sarah despairing over her lost career in the opera) or wonder whether the choices made were always the best one (Avery being Careful.) Still, for all that drama, or maybe because of it, it felt almost like a YA novel that you'd read in class (except for one notable scene between Avery and Sarah at the end of the book that probably would make it Not Safe For High School.) Still I would definitely recommend this and would not be surprised to see it have a lot of success (especially with Cuba in the news so much lately.)
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book. I had never before read a novel set in the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, so it was a nice change. The story pulled me in and I liked the characters. It was moving and suspenseful. I would definitely recommend it.
  • (3/5)
    This book follows a family in Florida as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolds in the 1960s. A Place We Knew Well is well written and an easy, but sometimes slow, read however for me it did not grip me the way I was anticipating given the subject mater and the fear that must have been felt during that time.
  • (4/5)
    Author Susan Carol McCarthy did an excellent job describing what was going on in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The beginning was a little slow for me, but it picked up very quickly and I found myself becoming attached to the characters of A Place We Knew Well. Overall, it was a pretty good book.
  • (3/5)
    Sarah and Wes live near an air force base. They are both alarmed with the base is mobilized and seemingly endless numbers of troops and airplanes arrive. Sarah, a nervous woman, spends more and more time in the bomb shelter, not coming out for days. Wes seems to be more of a down-to-earth community man, who just wants to run his gas station and keep his family safe. I thought this book was a bit slow moving. At the beginning of the book it switches points of view frequently, but by the end of the book it is all Wes' point-of-view. This was a bit frustrating to me as a reader, you shouldn't change style mid book! Overall, not a bad book, just not one I can see myself rereading.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoy Susan Carol McCarthy's novels that touch on tough historic times. Her characters do a great job of conveying the feelings an average American might have had during those troubling times. The factual historical aspect is an added bonus to her novels. During the tense 13 day Cuban Missile Crisis, Wes Avery has to come to terms with his wife's escalating mental illness, his daughter's coming of age and the secret he's been keeping for seventeen years come back to haunt him.I look forward to McCarthy's next novel! Be sure to read her first book: Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands! It brings To Kill A Mockingbird to my mind. Powerfully good.
  • (4/5)
    *I received this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.*This is the story of a family in central Florida living through the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Wes Avery manages a gas station - which quickly begins to run out of gas once the news of missiles in Cuba is made public, his wife Sarah struggles with the symptoms of depression and anxiety even as she participates in a neighborhood organization promoting civilian preparation for nuclear attacks, and their daughter Charlotte varies between her excitement to be a member of the Homecoming Court and her terror to see her world collapsing. A vivid imagining of the Cuban Missile Crisis as it played out domestically and interesting to consider in comparison to similar, more recent events, such as 9/11.
  • (4/5)
    The author has written an intimate, moving story of a family during the frightening period of time in October, 1962 known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the possibility of World War III, a nuclear war, became all too real. She has centered her story on the Avery family, Wes, the owner of a gas station in Florida, his wife, Sarah, and their teenage daughter, Charlotte. They’re living the American Dream, until that dream begins to crumble as the alarming news reports and rumors began to fly. The effects of this distressing time are different for each character. For Wes, memories of his time fighting in World War II, the war that was supposed to end all wars, were renewed. His wife, Sarah, was already at a fragile place in her life, struggling with the loss of her dream of more children and the long ago loss of her dream of a singing career. For teenage Charlotte, it’s a very confusing time, as she bounces between fearing the end of her world and the joy of the Homecoming Dance and young love. And then there’s Emilio, a young Cuban man who was sent to the US for safety but whose family was still in Cuba in one of the most dangerous areas.I was 11 years old during this time in history and well remember the “duck and cover” drills and being taught to hide under our flimsy wooden desks in case of a bomb, knowing what futile protection that would be. I was too young to understand all the political discussions that were constantly on TV but I certainly grasped the fact of the terrible danger that our country was in.I think Ms. McCarthy has done an excellent job in portraying that period of time in history with all its fears and insecurities. Her characters are likeable and realistic. She does an excellent job contrasting the moments of fear and the moments when life went on “normally” as though nothing was happening. Though people were going to bed not knowing if there would be a tomorrow, they went about their regular routines as best as they could. They tried to prepare for the upcoming days, knowing in their hearts that there was little they could do.For those readers who aren’t too familiar with the Cuban Missile Crisis, this book will give you an opportunity to live those days in its pages. For those who do remember those days, it will bring you right back to that place and time.I was given this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.
  • (5/5)
    A Place we Knew Well: A Novel by Susan McCarthy is a 2015 Bantam publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. “The Great Enemy of Truth is very often not the lie- deliberate, contrived and dishonest- but the myth- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic” This is a taut, suspenseful, yet moving and thought provoking novel that explores the cause and effect of stress, unrealized dreams, secrets, lies, and the complexities of family. Set in Florida in 1962, on the cusp of the Cuban missile crisis, the Avery family, Wes, Sarah, and their daughter, Charlotte, will see their idealistic “American dream” like existence come apart at the seams. A young Cuban America working for Wes at his gas station, a blonde blue eyed boy, named Emilio, steps up and agrees to take Wes's teenage daughter, Charlotte, to the homecoming dance after it becomes clear she will be a part of the homecoming court. This seemingly innocuous plan sends Sarah Avery into a deeper tailspin than usual, bringing on more pill popping and migraines, but the week is just getting started. Wes, is looking at military activity around him, knowing as a world war two survivor, that something is amiss, and he feels a palpable sense of foreboding. Charlotte is wrapped up in her life as a popular twirler, planning homecoming events and dreaming of dresses and dances, but she's also keenly aware that her mother is unwell, and that something terrible is brewing between Russia and the United States. As if these issues weren't enough to keep them on edge, a ghost from the past will walk back into their lives causing a crisis for the Avery's equal, in a personal and emotional sense, to the Cuban Missile one. But, as with so many of these national crisis or events, life, unbelievably, seems to go on as usual, in many ways. Sarah hemmed Charlotte's homecoming dress, Wes ran the gas station, Charlotte went to school, preparing for her homecoming week. But, the situation weighed heavily on them, stalking their dreams and stretching the high wire they walked on tighter and tighter. Charlotte can't believe this is happening NOW! It's homecoming! Wes is struggling with his wife's mental health, her increased pill popping, the higher dosages, and her high strung personality, which kept her wound up tighter than a two dollar watch on most days. But, it's times like these, with the very real possibility one may not live to see the next sunrise, that causes churches to fill up, confessions to be made, prompts people to take risk they wouldn't dream of under normal circumstances. So, it would seem, a person long gone from Sarah and Wes's life has one of those moments and simply must return to Florida with a specific goal in mind. This event will rival the prospect of nuclear war for Wes, who finds himself dealing with a crisis of conscience, with guilt, and the incredible pressure to keep his wife and daughter safe, and in the dark, which begins to take a toll on him. The tension climbs to an almost unbearable level as Wes finds himself caught in a web of deceit, as long buried secrets climb to the surface putting everything and everyone he holds dear on the line, as Sarah sinks deeper and deeper into the abyss, and Charlotte is left confused and afraid. I think, for Sarah, it was the upcoming homecoming dance and the memories she had of a similar occasion that was the real trigger for her, as opposed to the apocalyptic energy everyone else was effected by. She seemed only vaguely aware that the world was on the verge of blowing up. Long held resentments bubbled to the surface and Wes and Charlotte took the brunt of it, quite unfairly, I might add. But, Sarah had kept her feelings and emotions contained for so long, once history threatened to repeat itself she simply lost it. Her feelings, were also deeply rooted in her upbringing and in the time period in which she was raised. Still, she had to have been responding in part to the tension she sensed in others, as well. She seemed like a most difficult person, not all that likeable, but once I understood the heavy weight of disappointment and regret she kept bottled up, I admit I felt very angry and sad on her behalf. Wes is often bewildered by his wife's moods, and at a loss on how to help her. He is vulnerable, has some weak moments, but pulls himself together when it counts. The author did an admirable job of showing the effect of intense emotional trauma, recreating the country's extreme unease during those thirteen days in October, but also took pains to show the effects lies have on a large scale and on a smaller more personal scale. The myth referred to speaks to the spin we put on the lie, and how that in turn creates it's own cause and effect, which is what happened in the Cuban Missile crisis. The nation was sure Russia cowered in the end, chickened out, and this illusion created it's own snowball effect. Such was the case with lies told to Sarah and Wes, with their own lies, and when the myth of it was uncovered, their lives were never the same as a result. For Charlotte, that week, in which she was honored to be a part of the homecoming court, the week she fell in love for the first time, the week she learned shocking truths about her family and herself, will forever be indelibly etched in her mind as the same week the world nearly came to an end, literally. The profound impression these events had on her life shaped her into the person she would become as an adult, would play a role in redefining her life goals, and set her on a path she never dreamed of pursuing. That one week in history will haunt Charlotte well into her adult years, and the memories, while lying dormant for long periods, occasionally awaken, bringing about erudite observations which draws out some striking similarities between the past and the present. For such a short read, this story really packs a punch and I am still mulling over the many angles presented here. For some the story will draw out memories of a terrifying time in their lives , for others it will give them a realistic idea of what it felt like to live through such a terror filled period, bringing the Cuban Crisis into sharper focus. For others, the emotional trauma this family was suffering through on a personal level will take center stage. I think both situations played off each other, and kept the reader enthralled. For those who are members of book clubs, this would be a superb selection for your group. Many levels to to ponder, many character analysis to discuss, many ways to perceive events and their long lasting toll on people as a nation, as family, as an individual.
  • (4/5)
    In the second and third grade we practiced “duck and cover” drills along with regular fire drills. I liked the fire drills better because we could go outside. No one told us we were getting under our desks or sometimes going to the basement to crouch against the wall with our coat pulled over our heads. Later in Junior High School, our principal turned on the PA and turned we heard that about the beginnings of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This time we realized that there may be no tomorrow. We went home on a very quiet school bus and all the girls were sobbing. Our family had a bomb shelter in the basement but wondered how a plastic door could keep out radiation and what about when you leave the bomb shelter?A Place We Knew Well by Susan Carol McCarthy uses this moment in our history to plant her story. It is set in Florida where the panic must have been magnified. In Indiana, we were just silent, watching and listening to the news. In Florida, people were fleeing the state and the stations were running out of gasoline. Avery narrates most of the story and he is a station owner, a Texaco man. He had been in Japan and participated in bombing of the cities but not the dropping of the atomic bomb. His daughter, Charlotte, aka Kitty, is trying to have a normal teen aged girl’s life. Her mother, Sarah is coming unglued and is approaching what was called in those days a “nervous breakdown”. The first part of this book dragged. I developed a deep affection for the Avery character but I wanted to kick the story into a faster speed. As the missile crisis became more urgent so did the family crisis, then I was compelled to read. There was some mystery woven into to the story but it is the family drama that pulled me along.I love historical fiction and one of the things that I really liked in this book was Susan Carol McCarthy using direct quotes from the leaders involved in this crisis. That makes me want to learn more in depth about this situation. I also liked that I could recognize some feelings that I felt at that time.
  • (3/5)
    "Life, like the sea, comes at us hard," he could hear Old Pa saying. "It's kindness--simple human kindness---that buffers the blows."A family drama set in central Florida, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wes Avery is a successful gas station owner and dutiful family man. His once meticulous wife Sarah is slowly pulling away from the family, as she increasingly retreats to the family bomb shelter. His 17-year-old daughter Charlotte is nervous about the looming threat of nuclear war, but is also preoccupied with high school and upcoming homecoming activities. As the tension builds between Russia and the United States, so does the tension in the Avery household. Contemplating the global game played out over the past week, Avery had the dizzying realization that they'd reached every chess player's worst nightmare: zugzwang.Zugzwang, the endgame perfected by Persian chess masters over a thousand years ago, occurred when every move left is "bad" and whichever player has the next move will, as a result of his move, lose.In the thermonuclear-charged game between Khrushchev and Kennedy, having reached zugzwang, the only question left to answer was: Whose turn is it? Was it Kennedy's due to Khrushchev's downing of the U-2? Or was it Khrushchev's because of some secret move on Kennedy's part?This novel felt like two different books: a family drama and non-fiction novel. The non-fiction sections were actually my favorite parts! At the end of each school year, we would always stall out over World War II and then maybe devote the last couple days to everything that happened more recently. I really only knew the basics about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I learned a lot from this book (Pedro Pans, dog tags, women's civil defense effort., etc.), especially about the civilian response. The author obviously did a lot of research. The most fascinating part of this book was the setting: Central Florida in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. With the main character managing a successful gas station and the location set near an army base, the author is able to explore the escalating tension from an interesting, impactful angle. The author did a good job of portraying the fear and uncertainty the families experienced, as well as the innocence off the time, and the subsequent loss of innocence. I liked that the author chose to tell the story from the perspective of those who are helplessly watching the situation unfold through rumor and television report.He could see in her eyes the struggle between her need and her reluctance to believe him. In kindergarten, she'd nicknamed him Happy Pappy, discerning even at the age of five, his determined optimism. Her childhood drawings of him were always smiling. But clearly the problems they were facing today were so much larger, and scarier, than he had the power to resolve. That realization--her recognition that all the positive thinking in the world couldn't mask the fact that he was as powerless as she was-- pained him to no end.I wasn't too emotionally invested with the Avery family and their domestic situation. The characters never felt like fully formed people and I didn't really care much about them or their relationships to each other. It seemed as if the author's voice was speaking through them and the characters were simply vehicles through which to explore this fascinating time period in history. Avery and his gas station employees, Steve and Emilio, were the most interesting characters. Avery's POV dominated most of the book, so maybe it would helped if there were more chapters from Sarah's and Charlotte's point of view. I did not like the way the last chapter was set up. I thought there would be more symmetry with the intro, so the letter to the actual author threw me off and really took me out of the book.Whenever Mama did that, she'd quote President Roosevelt: "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on." …But knots--she sighed deeply, hurting as she thought of it--like families, like dreams, like life, for that matter, can be slippery things, unwilling or unable to hold.While I felt kind of 'meh' about the Avery family, I was very invested in the crisis unfolding around them. That is no small feat, considering I already knew the basics of how that situation ended up! The historical aspects of A Place We Knew Well were really interesting. I will be seeking out more books about this time period.(Being from Southeast Texas, there was a one sentence reference to Port Arthur in Chapter 8 which was neat to read!)"This thing's got disaster written all over it," Sarah had said. He wished she were here now to see them. Those kids aren't the disaster, he would've told her. We are; every one of us who saw this thing coming and didn't do everything in our power to stop it.