**"As a boy my first literary hero was Tom Sawyer, and ever since I've enjoyed the misadventures and romps of kids loose in the summertime. Summerlings is a story rich in local color, humor, outrageous characters, and with a wicked plot."--John Grisham
A Cold War coming-of-age story in which three best friends confront their fears of the Bomb, Russian spies, bullies, and their role in the tragic event that ushers them into adulthood.**
It's the summer of 1959. For the families who live on Connors Lane in Washington DC, life is still defined by what one did during WWII. Behind each door lives a possible spy or Nazi sympathizer, the family of a foreign diplomat, or someone who escaped the conflagration in Europe just in time.
But it is also the summer of an inexplicable spider infestation--surely evidence of "insect warfare" by the Russians, thinks our young narrator John, and his best friends, Ivan and Max. When a rare, scorpion-like vinegaroon is discovered and sequestered for museum study, the boys, along with their tomboy accomplice, Beatriz, hatch a risky midnight plan to steal the poisonous creature for their own devious purposes.
At the same time, under the tutelage of Ivan's glamorous aunt Elena, they plan to forge a spirit of bonhomie in the neighborhood by throwing a party in John's grandparents' backyard. Fueled by punch the boys doctor with a jug of Brazilian rum, the adults let down their defenses until Elena, already a lightning rod for her Ukrainian birth, swinging social life, and outspokenness on behalf of refugees, roars off with a stranger on his motorcycle. What happens next will change John's life forever.