The place they knew well was changing forever

A Place We Knew Well: A Novel - Susan Carol McCarthy

The author has written an intimate, moving story of a family during the frightening period of time in October, 1962 known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the possibility of World War III, a nuclear war, became all too real. She has centered her story on the Avery family, Wes, the owner of a gas station in Florida, his wife, Sarah, and their teenage daughter, Charlotte. They’re living the American Dream, until that dream begins to crumble as the alarming news reports and rumors began to fly.


The effects of this distressing time are different for each character. For Wes, memories of his time fighting in World War II, the war that was supposed to end all wars, were renewed. His wife, Sarah, was already at a fragile place in her life, struggling with the loss of her dream of more children and the long ago loss of her dream of a singing career. For teenage Charlotte, it’s a very confusing time, as she bounces between fearing the end of her world and the joy of the Homecoming Dance and young love. And then there’s Emilio, a young Cuban man who was sent to the US for safety but whose family was still in Cuba in one of the most dangerous areas.


I was 11 years old during this time in history and well remember the “duck and cover” drills and being taught to hide under our flimsy wooden desks in case of a bomb, knowing what futile protection that would be. I was too young to understand all the political discussions that were constantly on TV but I certainly grasped the fact of the terrible danger that our country was in.


I think Ms. McCarthy has done an excellent job in portraying that period of time in history with all its fears and insecurities. Her characters are likeable and realistic. She does an excellent job contrasting the moments of fear and the moments when life went on “normally” as though nothing was happening. Though people were going to bed not knowing if there would be a tomorrow, they went about their regular routines as best as they could. They tried to prepare for the upcoming days, knowing in their hearts that there was little they could do.


For those readers who aren’t too familiar with the Cuban Missile Crisis, this book will give you an opportunity to live those days in its pages. For those who do remember those days, it will bring you right back to that place and time.


I was given this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.


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