Friday, October 10, 2008

The Not-So-Random Shelf: Chapter Book

In Don’t Talk to Me About the War, David A. Adler beautifully evokes 1940s Brooklyn at the epoch of the Second World War. Tommy Duncan isn’t very interested in what’s happening in far away Europe; he’d rather keep up with the trials and tribulations of the Brooklyn Dodgers. His best friend Beth, on the other hand, is quite the political junkie and wants to discuss nothing else. He knows it’s pretty serious, particularly due to his friendship with a Jewish refugee.

Tommy’s mother begins to experience strange symptoms: weakness, stiffness, and fatigue. She’s finally persuaded to see a doctor, and after a few misdiagnoses, discovers that she has multiple sclerosis. His mother’s condition and the changes that it brings, along with the declaration of war and his deepening friendship with Beth cause a great amount of upheaval and excitement.

Adler invokes the era with the bustle of old-time Brooklyn, the idolization of the “The Bums,” soda shops and penny candy, and the ever-present radio serials and news. Humor mixed with suspense and sadness makes this an appealing historical fiction read.

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