Imagine if nuclear war had broken out between Russia and the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
That is the premise of Fallout, a new book written by Larchmont resident Todd Strasser, who has lived in the village for 23 years.
The story, set in the 1960s, is about a boy named Scott and his friends and family on Long Island. He is teased by his friends because his family is the only one in the neighborhood that has a bomb shelter. But eventually the bomb shelter has to be used, when the sirens start wailing.
"I grew up on Long Island," Strasser said, "and my father built a bomb shelter. So I was really aware of what was going on (between the U.S. and Russia)."
He said everyone in his neighborhood knew about the bomb shelter, because there was all this equipment digging up a really big hole.
"And my friends would tease me," Strasser said. "Would I let them in? Did I really want to live in there."
But the reality of the bomb shelter raised more questions for Strasser as a 12-year-old.
"If it happened, and there was a bomb while I was in school, would I be able to get home to get in the shelter?" he said.
Fallout (Candlewick, 258 pages, $16.99 hardcover) is Strasser's 100th book-length work of fiction, he said. There are more, but they are novelizations of movies.
He usually writes for teenagers and pre-teens, and this book is no exception.
However, it's for "sophisticated 10-year-olds (and up) and everybody our age who is recalling what life was like back then," Strasser said.
The Wall Street Journal said of Fallout, "there's not a word out of place in this evocative book, which toggles between the ever-more-dire predicament of the people in the overfilled bunker and the placid neighborhood during the weeks before the crisis."
Strasser said there were a number of messages in the book.
"The book is very much about these 10 people trapped in this bomb shelter," he said, "but it is very much about the civil rights movement. That there is going to be a black maid down there, too."
The same month as the Cuban missile crisis James Meredith was admitted to a white college, Strasser said.
"Also, it's about the objectification of the female body," he said, adding that one of the young boys is obsessed with women's breasts.
"Then they go down to the shelter and see that flesh is just flesh," Strasser said.
He said he's enjoyed his years in Larchmont, where he raised two children.
"It really is a good place to write books," Strasser said. "It has the Larchmont Public Library and the Westchester Library System. They are great about research."