AVAILABLE September 5, 2022
After a couple of disappointing books that I refused to finish–my time is too valuable–I was pulled into the story of Olive and Jo in Come Down Somewhere. Now I’m in the midst of that awed exhaustion a reader gets after finishing an incredible book.
Beginning during World War II but set on US soil, the novel takes place in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I never knew the significance of that place. I do now. It was the site of the Trinity nuclear test–the first detonation of such a weapon–the fallout of which was much more than atomic.
Revolving around the lives of two teenage girls, Olive Alexander and Jo Hawthorne, we see war from the view of those on the American home front. Even those who are not enlisted and called up are affected. Everyone and everything is affected. Emotions are heightened, relationships are strained, allegiances are intensified.
Olive’s story takes place mainly in 1944 when her family’s ranch is taken over by the US Army. While her mother, uncle, and brother dutifully move into a small casita on the property, Olive is outraged–not only by the apparent apathy of her family, but because she is shuffled off to live with her grandmother sixty miles away.
Jo’s story mostly chronicles her return to the area in 1952. Once God-fearing and optimistic, Life has severely challenged her faith. She’s there to visit her father, Richard–Sargent Hawthorne–once the proud military leader who supervised activity on the Alexander ranch, who now lays dying, silenced by throat cancer.
Back and forth between these two timelines, we see an ebb and flow of friendship, beliefs, family, betrayal and loving sacrifice. The writing is beautiful, the characters are complex, and the story is singularly unique. This is one I will remember for a long time. I highly recommend this novel. It would make a great book club selection.
Thank you to NetGalley and Tynedale House Publishers for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. Come Down Somewhere is a true winner.
More on the Trinity Nuclear Test HERE.