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Atomic Summer (Volume 1) Paperback – June 19, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Having been a child in the 50s, I found the book to be very true to the period, from the threat of Communism, bomb shelters, air raid drills, and teens obsessed with their virginity as well as burgeoning sexuality. The desire to be normal, though no one knew what that was, was always out of reach. The 50s was a very conservative time, with judgement and pain in the wings at any given time.
The way author Elaine Walsh sets up the main characters, Faith, Octavia and Bernadette, and her mother, the insufferable Savannah, you know them early on, although this doesn't make them predictable. Savannah single-handedly brought back memories of how mothers can embarrass us, and each of the girls had recognizable qualities and faults.
The young men in the book are full of surprises, but Stephen, who returns to Port Pompeii from the Korean War offers the most poignant dialog, and is wise beyond his years. Then there's Rev. Pappy who offers mystery and color and a surprising background. Friends Wesley and Allen are central characters as well and they certainly reminded me of boys I knew, and showed sense of fun and angst.
Each character is illustrated in a way that draws the reader to feel that he/she knows them personally. When things happened, I felt that they were happening to people I knew, and I went through a range of emotions as well.
Drawn in, I finished the book in two days, and it was one of those stories that I didn't want to end. I'm hoping that Ms. Walsh will treat us to more of her talent, because after reading Atomic Summer, I plan on reading anything she writes! I haven't felt this way about an author since Anne Tyler and Joyce Carol Oates.
I certainly commend Walsh on her characterization. Normally when I read a book in two days, I am not that impacted by characters at all. However, Atomic Summer is an exception. Each character evoked different emotional responses from me. Faith's character was eponymous of her name. She is a loyal Catholic, and though she tries her best to uphold morality, she is often gullible. There are times when I feel so sorry for her when she cannot interpret how vicious the world is. Octavia is socially-awkward, and for a part of the book, I grew tired of having to read her narration. Surrounded by books and constricted by her responsibilities for Archie, Octavia though intelligent, is quite mundane considering her age. Then I realized, "wait - this girl has adult responsibilities to fulfill". So I must confess, I began to grow fond of her because I felt pitiful for her. Also, she had the most pain to deal with. My favorite characterization was for Bernadette. She is a vicious adolescent with dictating hormones and no conscience. Though Bernadette did not narrate, Walsh gave us a lot of information on her via her loyal friends. I think Bernadette represents a lot of people we know today. She is manipulative and mocking, covetous and crazed. Sometimes I wish Walsh made her break an arm. There are many other characters in the book - Susannah, Stephen, Lyle, Allen, Wesley, etc - that not only enhance the plot, but make the book more authentic by presenting personalities we are familiar with.
The plot was fast-paced - perfect for a summer read. I spent two nights reading this on my tablet, often finding out that morning came upon me.The novel is chronicled well by both Octavia and Faith.Read more ›
The experiences, dreams, and fears of the cast of young teens will hit home with readers who have lived through the same exploratory--and sometimes confusing--period in their own lives. I could easily relate to the characters and even recognized specific traits in a few of my former school friends! Emotions run the gamut in this tender story of friendship, and certain scenes tug at our heartstrings. Be forewarned.
Against the backdrop of small-town Port Pompeii, the distinct personalities of the characters come to life and simple events appear all the more dramatic. I was especially impressed with the depth of the historical descriptions. From bomb shelters to verandahs, from bars to churches, I could visualize each setting as though I'd been there before.
Events move fast in Atomic Summer, and the story of young interconnected lives ends too soon, but the characters will linger with me for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love the story, but the distractions on the kindle version are major. In addition to frequent grammatical errors, I am missing multiple consecutive chapters at at least two... Read morePublished 21 months ago by A
I could easily see this book becoming a movie. The characters were beautifully developed. The story was well told and the setting vividly described. Read morePublished on June 14, 2014 by Joey
Atomic Summer is a beautifully tragic coming-of-age story written by Elaine Walsh. Her words draw the reader into the world of 1953 where life should be simple and fun. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Kinx's Book Nook
I very much enjoyed this book. It¡¯s rare when you get a story about teens that doesn¡¯t have zombies, vampires, or supernatural stuff in it, and while I enjoy those... Read morePublished on September 27, 2013 by Nikki Bennett
I would recommend this book if you want to keep guessing how each person turn out in the end. The three gals are very different from each other.Published on August 9, 2013 by Lindy A Decker
This is ok, it could get boring, it took me awhile to finish, because it did not keep me interested, so I stopped and read something else. Read morePublished on July 21, 2013 by Kindle Customer
I love all things "historical fiction" and this one was one of the best! Set back in the 1950's it describes a summer of three teenage friends and the growing up they all do that... Read morePublished on June 20, 2013 by Courtney L
When you stay up way past your bedtime two nights in a row, it's a five star story.
Having more than one narrator works well. Read more
This is a book that I should have not liked. My favorite authors are Hemingway and Bukowski, so I should hate a book about rural teenage girls growing up in rural America. Read morePublished on May 1, 2013 by Kent