Coming of Age in a Time of War
At this time when Americas attention is so focused on homeland security and the threat of weapons of mass destruction, novelist Ann L. McLaughlin has written an eye-opening narrative of a period fifty years ago, the last time Americas homeland was in danger of direct assault, and the first time is history that mankind envisioned warfare fought with such frightening weapons.
Joey Lindsten is ten years old in 1942 when she and her family move from Cambridge to wartime Washington, D.C. because Joeys father, a physicist, is recruited to work for the government on a top secret project. Their new house on Q Street is shabby, but they do their best to accentuate the positive during troubled times.
The Linsten family is in trouble, not only because of wartime shortages, but because of the demands that work and a love affair have made on the fathers attention. Through Joeys eyes we glimpse the changes affecting the entire family as she and her sister adapt to new schools, her father spends less and less time at home, and her mother begins a descent into depression.
When her father leaves Washington to work at the atomic laboratory in Chicago, the family takes in boarders to help absorb the huge influx of people moving to the capital to help in the war effort. A nurse and several military officers now become part of the family. This, along with her mothers new job and outlook on life, help Joey feel a part of the great effort herself, especially as she fills her scrapbook with news of the unfolding war.
When Joeys father returns, hes still working feverishly, possessed by the project. Realizing the horror of the invention he and his fellow scientists have spawned, hes joined a small group trying to convince the political powers that this invention must never be used.
Full of wartime songs and radio news, The House on Q Street catches the mood of the war on the homefront as it is felt by a bright and courageous girl on the verge of young womanhood.
Ann L. McLaughlin is the author of four highly acclaimed novels, including Lightning in July, which Publishers Weekly called a richly textured tale, and The Balancing Pole, which James Sallis in The Washington Post called a deeply moving, adroitly embroidered novel. She teaches at the Writers Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and lives in Chevy Chase.