The Sky Is Falling by Caroline Adderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the Fall 2012 VPL book sale.
Read in May/June 2013.
This story takes place in two time periods: 1983-84 and 2004.
In 1983: Jane Z. is a second-year UBC student originally from Edmonton. She spent her first year living at her aunt’s in Burnaby, but now she wants to live closer to campus. She ends up moving into a communal house in Kitsilano. Her new housemates are Sonia, Pete, and Dieter. They are into peace and anarchy and protesting. They, esp. Sonia, think there is going to be a nuclear war and everyone is going to die.
I have to interject here and say this story totally reminded me why/how I spent my high school years thinking nuclear war was an inevitability. To the point I didn’t worry much about long-term consequences not because I thought I was invincible, but because I thought we were all going to be vaporized sooner or later. It’s weird, how this doesn’t get mentioned much, if at all, anymore. So when I started reading this book and realized that’s what it was about (in part), I was hooked. Well, that and the fact it’s set in Vancouver 😉
Jane is taking Russian and reading Chekhov*, so her housemates assume that she’s Russian (they’re in love with this idea, of course), but she’s actually not. She just had a professor in first year who encouraged her to continue on in his department, and in classic “I can’t decide what to major in” fashion, she floated into Slavic Studies.
In 2004: Jane is now 39. She’s married to Joe, who’s a doctor, and has a 15yo son, Joe Jr. She works as a freelance copy-editor.
One morning there is a story in the newspaper about Sonia being released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence for her part in an attempted bombing in 1984. This gets Jane thinking about the events of twenty years ago, although it turns out that she never really stopped thinking about them. Her whole life has basically been haunted and shaped by how she remembers what happened in the spring of 1984.
I don’t want to say any more about the plot, but I was impressed by how the ending of this one worked out. It felt like all the pieces fell into place but at the same time Adderson resisted tying up all the loose ends.
*Because of all the Chekhov discussion, I decided that would be my next read.
Just reminded me about a post I meant to write. Thanks. About nuclear war of all things.
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