Duck and Cover

Brenda Peterson, Author HarperCollins Publishers $20 (254p) ISBN 978-0-06-016320-4
Meet the MacKenzies: Dad, a dedicated career diplomat; Mom, a Bible-thumping CIA operative; son Davy, a gung-ho fighter pilot nicknamed Rocket Man; and daughters Tia, a trauma nurse married to a survivalist/heart surgeon, and Sydney, a psychologist given on-the-job training by her own off-center family. Narrated in the perfectly cadenced voices of nine different members of the clan (including kid's-eye views of two grandchildren), Peterson's bittersweert and utterly beguiling novel looks back at the MacKenzies during the fallout-sheltered, duck-and-cover air-raid days of the Cold War '50s. She follows them through Dad's embassy postings in various Latin American hot spots and into the present era of detente, although adulthood for the three siblings does not, alas, lead to disarmament. Bullied by their domineering, self-righteous mother, at odds with their respective spouses, each of them is more deeply concerned with the quest for inner peace than with the pursuit of world order. Sydney, Tia and Davy ultimately discover that life in the shadow of Armageddon requires looking up and facing front rather than ducking down. ``It takes a nuclear family to live in our nuclear age,'' observes one of the grandchildren's teachers. So the endearing, abiding MacKenzie kids prove. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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