Carnegie Medalist Mal Peet ignites an epic tale of young love against the dramatic backdrop of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Can love survive a lifetime? When working-class Clem Ackroyd falls for Frankie Mortimer, the gorgeous daughter of a wealthy local landowner, he has no hope that it can. After all, the world teeters on the brink of war, and bombs could rain down any minute over the bleak English countryside – just as they did seventeen years ago as his mother, pregnant with him, tended her garden. This time, Clem may not survive. Told in cinematic style by acclaimed writer Mal Peet, this brilliant coming-of-age novel is a gripping family portrait that interweaves the stories of three generations and the terrifying crises that define them. With its urgent sense of history, sweeping emotion, and winning young narrator, Mal Peet's latest is an unforgettable, timely exploration of life during wartime.
About the Author
Mal Peet (1947–2015) is the acclaimed author of the Carnegie Medal–winning novel Tamar as well as the Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book Life: An Exploded Diagram and three Paul Faustino novels: Keeper, The Penalty, and Exposure, a winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. He is also the co-author of Cloud Tea Monkeys, Mysterious Traveler, and Night Sky Dragons, all of which he wrote with his wife, Elspeth Graham.
Mal Peet’s story in his own words . . .
As a child:
I grew up as a member of an emotionally impaired family on a council estate in a one-horse market town in north Norfolk. The three things that kept me sane were my bike, books, and soccer. The bike took me great distances. (Norfolk is, famously, flat, although there are hills that can sneak up on you). Books took me further away, often to islands: Treasure Island, the Coral Island, and wherever it was that the Swiss Family Robinson found themselves. I also loved comics, and originally wanted Keeper to be a graphic novel. As for soccer, by the time I was sixteen, I was playing at least three full matches a week – for my school, for my county, and for the town.
As an adult:
After university I had some lost years, like many of my peers. I tried teaching to start with. Then I quit and went on walkabout. I worked in a hospital mortuary. I worked at an abattoir; what with the heat and the carnage it was an authentic vision of Hell. I went to Devon because I liked the sound of it, and there worked on building sites. I went to Canada and worked with a road crew consisting of a variety of interesting characters, including mad Newfoundlanders and exiled Irishmen. I met a lovesick man in Ontario who wanted someone to drive with him to Vancouver, where his girlfriend was. That week-long drive across Canada was one of the best and worst things I have ever done.
As an artist:
Like many people (I suspect), I had no real interest in children’s literature until I had children of my own. It'll sound a bit evangelical, I suppose, but I truly believe that there are few things more important, useful, and protective than sharing stories with your children. After their bath, heaped into a big chair, doing the voices, discussing the pictures, softening your voice as the rhythm of their breathing deepens. . . . You start to understand why certain books work and others don't.
What People are Saying About This
Peet creates an explosive world where love is frowned upon and the past has bloody teeth and bad breath. It's a world that demands deep examination and thought, and Peet has done a splendid job of creating it.
Peet's brilliant, ambitious novel bridges the years between World War II and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City, but at its heart is a star-crossed affair set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Recommend this memorable novel to mature teen readers, and if you can wrest away a copy, read it yourself.
—School Library Journal
This is mesmerizing through the sheer force and liveliness of its prose, as well as its unpredictable, inexorable plot. Peet's gift for imagery makes the novel fizz with the intensity of an adolescent's heightened perceptions-in which everything is alive, and even boredom is an all-engrossing activity. Place, period, and adolescent passion all come through with exuberant feeling and humor; Peet's subtle, literary play with narrative voice, style, and chronology make this a satisfyingly sophisticated teen novel. Outstanding.
—The Horn Book
Sophisticated teens and adults will appreciate this subtle yet powerful exposition of the far-reaching implications of war.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One of my favorite books, if you love Tamar you'll love this!