This season we are blessed with the publication of two tween books taking place during the early 1960s and the Cuban Missile Crisis. This Means War by Ellen Wittlinger captures what it was like to be eleven years old and worried that a nuclear war was about to take place. Juliet is growing up in the midwest, upset at just having lost her best friend, Lowell, to two "Air Force brats" that have moved in to the military base in their town. Now Lowell has two boys who he would rather hang out with than Juliet. Finally Juliet meets Patsy, whose father is a mechanic in the Air Force. The two of them seek out a way to show the boys that the girls are better than them. To do this, the boys and girls have a series of contests pitting the two groups against each other. While some of the contests are harmless, the final challenge ends up causing some real damage and endangering the lives of those involved.
Wittlinger has managed to develop a novel sharing what life in America looked like in the early 1960s. Juliet's family owns a small grocery store that is having trouble keeping up with the development of the supermarket. Families are building bomb shelters in anticipation of President Kennedy being unable to resolve Russia's aggression toward the United States on the island of Cuba. And Russia is also busily sending a man up in space.
I loved this slice of 1960s America that Wittlinger provides. This is a great historical fiction novel for tweens who are interested in this time period and the beginning of the Cold War.