From beloved bookseller Lisa Howorth comes a Cold War coming-of-age story in which three best friends confront their fears of the Bomb, Russian spies, girls, and their role in the tragic accident that ushers them into adulthood.
It's the summer of 1959. For the handful of families who live on Connors Lane, a stone's throw from the Washington Monument, life is still largely defined by what one did during the war. Behind each freshly painted door lives the family of a diplomat, a supposed spook, a former Nazi sympathizer, or someone who escaped the conflagration in Europe just in time. The Cold War is in high gear, and neighborhood tensions are powered by lingering suspicions and resentments.
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 creature is captured and sequestered for further study, the boys, along with their tomboy friend, Beatriz, hatch a risky midnight plan to sneak into the Natural History Museum and steal the creature for themselves.
At the same time, under the tutelage of Ivan's glamorous aunt Elena, they decide to forge a spirit of bonhomie in the neighborhood by throwing a party in John's grandparents' backyard. Fueled by rum-doctored punch and fireworks, the adults let down their defenses until Elena, already a lightning rod for her swinging social life and outspokenness on behalf of refugees, roars off with a stranger on his motorcycle. What happens when she returns home later that night will change John's life forever.
Against this perfectly rendered backdrop of Good Humor trucks, Chesterfield cigarettes, Everly Brothers tunes, and childhood mischief, Lisa Howorth has written a powerful testament to love and friendship amid uncertain times.
About the Author
Lisa Howorth was born in Washington, D.C., where her family has lived for four generations. She is a former librarian and the author of the novel Flying Shoes. Her writing has appeared in the Oxford American and Garden & Gun, among other publications. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she and her husband, Richard, cofounded Square Books in 1979.