Why I liked it: Fallout is a historical fiction novel, set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which author rewrites history. I can't think of another historical fiction piece that takes this approach, but it was interesting to think about how things might have turned out differently. The topic of the novel was a very personal one to the author. His family also built a shelter during the Cold War, though they never had to use it.
The chapters, which alternate between past and present, are narrated by Scott, a sixth grader. As a teacher, I was pleased to see Scott's teacher, Mr. Klasman play an important role in the novel; he challenges the students with questions rather than telling them what to think.
Classroom application: Discussion questions are included with the novel which would be perfect for use in a classroom discussion. I think particularly rich discussions would come from comparing the parenting styles of narrator's family to his friend Ronnie's family.
Besides the obvious connection to the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, segregation and racism are also topics addressed in the book. Students could research any of these topics and evaluate the novel's historical accuracy.
The novel could also be used a mentor text, with students selecting their own historical event to rewrite.
For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:
Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.