All That Is Solid Melts Into Air by Darragh McKeon
When a reactor explodes at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, life changes for hundreds of thousands. A doctor leaves his home to go work the front lines, treating those that are sick. He seems to be the only one that truly understands the impact of radiation and doesn't believe everything that the government is saying about what is going on. A young boy practices almost every day because he has such talent at the piano. Living with his mom and aunt, it becomes hard to make ends meet after the disaster and practices need to be cut short. Then there's the family that lives close to the plant and the father helps clear the forest after the accident. Obviously he becomes very sick and the mom and her two children are left in makeshift huts for their new home.
This book is like a graceful and careful dance, with each character's story touching another. Usually I like character-driven stories and really want to be able to connect with at least one of the characters. For this book, I felt that it was more situation-driven. I think the characters could have been almost anyone, it was about what they were going through and how they managed the disaster. There is a chapter in this book that doesn't have any of the main characters from the story but was one of the most riveting chapters I've read in a long time. It described what happened right after the accident and how actions that seemed innocent actually would have killed the people that did it, knowing what we now know about Chernobyl.
There was a lot of history in this novel that I wasn't aware of about the disaster. Details were provided on how the Soviet Union did not protect their citizens during the disaster time which is interesting to learn about, especially given the current news with Russia.
A fantastically written book about a very interesting subject.
First Line: "He comes to her daily, slipping into her mind between breaths."