THREE friends, TWO secrets, ONE lie, and the summer that changed their lives.
The world is ripe for destruction in 1953. The Korean War drags on and the Rosenbergs are executed as spies. Senator Joseph McCarthy convinces the country communists are infiltrating the government, and the threat of nuclear war festered in the collective consciousness of the nationWhile the nation worries about communist bombs, sixteen-year-old Bernadette Vaughn holds court in the family bomb shelter, finagling a way to read Kinsey’s groundbreaking work on human sexuality. She obsesses about boys and big city life. Her best friend, Faith McNulty is a devout Catholic who dreams of staying in their small town, marrying Allen Hanlon, and raising a family. Their awkward and unattractive friend, Octavia Mansfield doesn’t have room in her life for boys, dreams, or God. She spends most of her young life caring for her severely disabled brother.
Their conversations about what each of them would do if the end of the world were imminent become the catalyst for a prank that spins wildly beyond control and draws in an entire town.
Left behind in the wake of that summer’s events are their unrealized dreams and open wounds. In 1973, a reunion trip to the small town of their youth returns them to the summer of 1953 and the passion and betrayal that changed their lives.
Atomic Summer received an Honorable Mention at the 2012 Southern California book Festival.
Winner of the Chairman's award for excellence, Honorable Mention at the 2012 California Book Festival, and quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards.
Nimitz Highway and River Street is an intersection on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It is also the place I impatiently came out of the womb ready to start my own personal history. Plan A was the military vehicle whisking my laboring mother toward the base hospital for a traditional birth. That did not happen. Plan B has been my life since.
I was one of two children but with my father being one of nine, I enjoyed the richness and craziness of growing up in a larger extended family. Being brought up Catholic I have an appreciation for the history and tradition of the church that stays with me although I did not stay with the church. My mother suffered bouts of guilt about birth control and other church teachings I never let bother me. I struggled in other ways, dealt with it, and moved on.
Mom did her best to prepare me for life as a woman. Secretarial courses and domestic chores would prepare me to be a wife. Growing up in the flowering women’s rights movement as a child of the 70’s, we had differing ideas, and I had other plans. I went off to college in upstate New York majoring in psychology with the intent of being a “death & dying” counselor. This would be my paying job while I wrote the next great American novel. Plan B kicked in and I graduated with a B.A. in English, packed my car, and upset my parents by moving to Florida in search of my destiny.
This is where you will find me now, along with tens of thousands of northern transplants who invaded the Sunshine State. I adopted the sports allegiances of my adopted home state (Tampa Bay Rays and Buccaneers) much to the chagrin of my New York Yankee baseball and football Giant family. Without ever having taken one business course, I created my own brand and became a successful business executive by day and women’s fiction writer by night. So far, I have lived a Lifetime Movie Network life, a mixture of extraordinary, ordinary, mundane, and terrifying, providing me great inspiration and fanning my creative flame.
My father instilled in me a strong sense of family. Semper Fidelis is not only his beloved Marine Corp motto but also a guiding principle in his life. My family stood by me, accepted me, and supported me during my difficult times. Other times, we laughed and created memories. He brought to life the words unconditional love.
From my mother, I gained an appreciation for the complexities of relationships and richness in life one finds exploring and experiencing everything from a recipe, to a historical site, to lunch with friends, or a glass of wine. Material possessions meant little to her. She was a collector of experiences. We journeyed together and grew as individuals and as mother-daughter. I shared her journeys battling cancer, surviving one and succumbing to another. In one of our last soulful conversations before she died, she told me she was glad I also had a daughter and she hoped I would enjoy my own daughter as much as she enjoyed me.
Being a daughter, mother, friend, and soul mate are the most powerful influences in my life and my stories. But as a successful women’s fiction writer, does this surprise anyone?read more
Reviews for Atomic Summer
This book is a fun summer read. It’s one of those stories that you can sit by the pool or on the beach or anywhere you can curl up for a few hours and escape for some R&R reading enjoyment. The first lines intrigued me and from there I kept turning the pages to see what came next and I was not disappointed. The story opens in 1973 with a brief flashback from Faith, who is one of the main characters. She is traveling back to her hometown for a reunion where she will be reunited with her girlhood friends in the small town in upstate New York where she grew up. Something happened that summer that changed her life and the lives of her friends. The way the writer sets up the opening scene made me want to find out. In other words, I was hooked! I didn’t have to give it a few chapters to see if I was interested in turning the pages.The story immediately jumps to 1953. Bernadette, who is Faith’s best friend, is holding court in her family’s bomb shelter. It is 1953 for goodness sakes and the communist “red scare” is in full flight, so what a perfect place for teenagers to hang out, cool off, grow up and grow bored. Bernadette is obsessed with boys. They aren’t quite as enamored with her and who can blame them. She is a narcissist you just want to reach in to the pages and slap. I love it when a character drums up emotion in me, both good and bad. Well, Bernadette doesn’t hide her interest for Faith’s boyfriend which sets up a nice conflict between these supposed best friends. But Faith is too naïve and too good of a friend to do what I would have done which is punch Bernadette right in the kisser. Then there’s the ugly duckling third wheel friend Octavia who you find yourself rooting for as she struggles to step out of the dark shadows of her troubled family.Besides the story’s main characters Faith, Bernadette and Octavia (which BTW, the point of view shifts between Faith and Octavia which makes for interesting story telling), there is the over the top, self proclaimed southern belle matriarch of Bernadette’s family, giving the reader insight as to why Bernadette is the overbearing girl she is. And wait until you meet the mysterious Reverend Flews. Add two teenage boys to this stew of a story to spice it. There’s a lot to taste as you slurp from the author’s spoon and find yourself trying to figure out all of the ingredients that go into this coming of age story. The author’s tag line is “THREE friends, TWO secrets, ONE lie, and the summer that changed their lives”. The author leaves breadcrumbs to follow one secret while she slowly reveals another and the euphoric and heart wrenching impact of each one. And the lie that becomes blatantly clear early on what it is and who is telling it and the entire community gets sucked in to it. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive”. It is deliciously tangled and the next best seller in my eyes.read more
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