This book is loosely based on a real-life family who was victimized by the fear and hatred created during the McCarthy era. Cal Kuseck and his wife Betsy move their two children, Jo and Lance, to a cattle farm in South Dakota. The book chronicles their struggle to adapt to their new life. Cal becomes interested in politics and serves three terms in the State Assembly. When he decides to run for the Senate, the FBI looks more closely into his and his family’s past affiliations and learn of Betsy’s short membership in the Communist party when she was a very young woman. Cal’s political enemies start a smear campaign and his friends and neighbors turn against him. This all leads to a libel lawsuit and ultimately, many years later, to murder.
I had expected this to be a fascinating, empathetic book but for some reason, I never could really connect with the characters. I thought this book would really speak to my heart, especially during this difficult time in our country when people are so divided and fear is prevalent. I read this book during the last days of the presidential election. But I really didn’t get caught up in the victimization of this family and didn’t find much suspense in the murder either. It felt a bit flat and disjointed to me. But it’s certainly a timely book and shows just how fear and hate can grow in a country until it produces unreasonable mass hysteria.
This book was given to me by the publisher through First to Read in return for an honest review.