REVIEW: A PLACE WE KNEW WELL, BY SUSAN CAROL MCCARTHY

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It was a time I remember well. The thirteen days when the Cuban Missile Crisis loomed over all of our lives, it would be even more traumatic for those living so close to Cuba, like the characters in A Place We Knew Well. Florida, where these characters lived, would seem like the place most affected by events as they unfolded.

Wes Avery, the owner of a Texaco service station, is the primary narrator. His wife Sarah seems to be going through a major crisis, and as the count-down to possible disaster continues, a number of events sharpen the emotional components in her world.

Daughter Charlotte has been nominated for Homecoming Queen, and her date is a young Cuban named Emilio. What does this signify to Sarah, who protests loudly?

Why does Sarah then curl up in their bomb shelter with the lights out? Is the past crushing her with the loss of hope and the death of dreams? Why does someone from their past suddenly appear, and how does this event change the landscape of their world?

The story moved very slowly in the beginning, but as the count-down continued, I felt more engaged. I was mostly bored by Wes and his thoughts and feelings, but eventually I started to connect with him.

Sarah felt like the typical bored housewife until some moments from her past are magnified.

Memorable times drove the story for me, and the characters became more likable later on. I read it mostly for the historic events, and how people struggled during those thirteen days. 3.5 stars.

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