cover image War & Watermelon

War & Watermelon

Rich Wallace. Viking, $15.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-670-01152-0

Brody Winslow narrates a month in his life in 1969, just as he's about to start seventh grade in suburban New Jersey. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon a month earlier, the Vietnam War is raging, and Brody's beloved older brother, Ryan, will turn 18%E2%80%94and become eligible for the draft%E2%80%94in less than 30 days. The central conflict is between Brody's father and Ryan, who resists applying to college because he's not ready, but has no alternative to being drafted. Even Brody understands how high the stakes are: "It's not like he can stop the calendar from turning just by ignoring it." As Brody reports his anxiety over the familial tension, he relates his budding interest in girls and his shaky spot on the rec league football team. Wallace's (the Kickers series) slice-of-life tale doesn't entirely capitalize on its material%E2%80%94the life and death choices teens in Ryan's era had to make%E2%80%94but a trip to Woodstock and a less successful venture to Shea Stadium to see the improbably streaking Mets firmly ground Brody's narrative in the period. Ages 10%E2%80%93up. (June)