Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Place We Knew Well” as Want to Read:
A Place We Knew Well
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Place We Knew Well

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  389 ratings  ·  134 reviews
For 13 days in October 1962, the world held its breath—seemingly on the brink of nuclear war. Set against the backdrop of Cold War panic and politics, this enthralling novel tells the intimate and human story of a family whose own hearts are at war.

For the Avery family, the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis mark a turning point in their lives which will shape and forev
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Bantam
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Place We Knew Well, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Place We Knew Well

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  389 ratings  ·  134 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Place We Knew Well
Elyse  Walters
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
October, 1962:
"The confrontation between United States and the Soviet Union played out on television worldwide and was the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.

The U-2 Spyplane produced clear photographic evidence of median-range and intermediate-
range ballistic missile facilities.

After a period of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between Kennedy and
Khrushchev. Publicly, The Soviets with dismantle their offense of weapons in Cuba and return them to
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Okay, seriously, I'm not sure if this is getting only three stars because of my reading slump or because I truly thought it was an okay book. I liked reading about the characters and all of these things they went through, the family secrets, the slip into mental health issues. They were all very well written, but alas here we are with just my three stars which is not bad either.

This book is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis as you can read from the description.


The book starts out in 2009 wit
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
I have never really thought about how life must have been those 13 days 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I have read about it, seen documentaries about it and seen movies about the days. But I have never really thought about how it must have been like in America during those days, with little knowledge about what was going on in the White House and in Soviet and still having to go on with your life as usual.

For the Avery family is it time for the Homecoming and the daughter in the family ha
For me, this book was hard to get into, but once I did it was a good  reading experience.  The author  wrote expertly on a little discussed  time in our history, the Cuban Missile Crisis. She knows this period amazingly  well, or else she researched  her behind off.   She describes with fluidity the fear and panic of the Floridians and the secret military operations in play, although maybe not so secret, as everyone seemed to know everything even before  the morning papers arrived.  I was in gra ...more
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Place we Knew Well: A Novel by Susan McCarthy is a 2015 Bantam publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“The Great Enemy of Truth is very often not the lie- deliberate, contrived and dishonest- but the myth- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic”

This is a taut, suspenseful, yet moving and thought provoking novel that explores the cause and effect of stress, unrealized dreams, secrets, lies, and the complexities of family
Dean Cummings
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As I turned the pages of Susan Carol McCarthy’s “A Place We Knew Well” my mind drifted back to the lyrics of Billy Joel’s song, “Leningrad.”

“The children lived in Levittown, and hid in the shelters underground…

Till the Soviets turned their ships around, and tore all the Cuban Missiles down…

And in that bright October sun, we knew our childhood days were done…

And I watched my friends go off to war. What do they keep on fighting for?”

In the story’s opening pages we find out that the year is 2009 an
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received the book for free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers.

I loved this book. The author did a tremendous job at capturing the fear of Americans during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I never realized just how terrifying that event was. The author also weaved in the family drama portion of the story really well.
Jul 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was actually looking forward to A Place We Knew Well because quite frankly there are very few historical fiction books on the 60s, especially based on the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, I was rather disappointed to find that the writing and the story failed to impress.

Overall the writing felt very unnatural to me and often stilted. This displayed itself greatly in the characters. The thoughts of characters often felt strange and unrealistic and unfortunately we were in characters' heads often.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author has written an intimate, moving story of a family during the frightening period of time in October, 1962 known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the possibility of World War III, a nuclear war, became all too real. She has centered her story on the Avery family, Wes, the owner of a gas station in Florida, his wife, Sarah, and their teenage daughter, Charlotte. They’re living the American Dream, until that dream begins to crumble as the alarming news reports and rumors began to fly.

Lisa B.
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
My Thoughts
Wes Avery lives near a military base in Florida with his wife Sarah and daughter Charlotte. He knows something is up when he starts to see alot of activity at the base, both in the air and on the ground. The whole town soon finds out, along with the rest of the nation, about the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Place We Knew Well tells the story of how the crisis impacted one family, one town and an entire nation.

I liked the main character Ms. McCarthy created in Wes Avery. He is a simple man
Karen R
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyday people are trying to live normal lives in a small Florida town, a stone’s throw from McCoy Air Force Base, SAC, leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. A suspenseful story in which I felt the palpable fear and uncertainty in an assortment of characters as tensions mounted amidst news reports, rumors of war and flybys of war planes.

The author has done her homework as this is a piece of historical fiction that realistically portrays what life was like during this harrowing time. The novel
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author does a great job of showing how scary it was for the American citizens living in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I really enjoyed this book. We have easier access to the media and communications so whenever I read a book set back in the 1960's, I have to remind myself they didn't have cell phones and the internet so it was harder to get up-to-date information. Very well written.
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Wes Avery runs the Texaco Station on the corner of Princeton and Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. Wife Sarah has been emotionally fragile in recent years, a near brush with Hurricane Donna in close proximity to her hysterectomy left Wes and their daughter Charlotte concerned. October 1962 brings challenges for their family and the nation.

I appreciate character driven stories and historical fiction where the author teaches me about the past, this novel was enjoyable on both counts. Juxta
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
In the second and third grade we practiced “duck and cover” drills along with regular fire drills. I liked the fire drills better because we could go outside. No one told us we were getting under our desks or sometimes going to the basement to crouch against the wall with our coat pulled over our heads.

Later in Junior High School, our principal turned on the PA and turned we heard that about the beginnings of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This time we realized that there may be no tomorrow. We went
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell, via NetGalley, for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!


I really enjoyed this book. I didn't live through the Cuban Missile Crisis -- obviously -- but it's also not a period of history that is really talked much about. That's one of the reasons I really enjoyed A Place We Knew Well -- because the family crises in this book combined with the actual Missile Crisis was very realistic and very sad, in some wa
Cathy Beyers
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I had to push myself at the beginning, because even though the atmosphere and setting of the book were spot on, for quite a while I couldn't see where the story was going. It was all about the threat a potential WW3. Enter Kitty, and it really takes off.
The beginning of the sixties with all the angst and panic around the Cuban crisis, I know only from my history classes and the odd documentary, but these seldom tackle the real lives and feelings of ordinary people. This nov
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not connect with this book at all. I can't come up with a specific reason, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

ARC from publisher.
For something with such a heavy topic such as the helplessness and hysteria normal people faced when faced with imminent nuclear war, it was a fast read. Which is to say, it read like a thriller even though it wasn't one. The Cuban Missile Crisis looms large in the book, but ultimately it's only a backdrop for the more intimate family drama that the Averys go through during this time. I liked the Averys, and I cared a little for what they went through. But mostly I felt that it interrupted the v ...more
Cian O hAnnrachainn
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Cold War era is now far enough in the past to be considered historical, making A PLACE WE KNEW WELL a work of historical fiction.

Set in Florida during the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the novel puts us into the heart of a single family that lies in the crosshairs of those Cuban missiles, portraying the stress and madness of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The book opens with the only child of this family, Charlotte, making a last visit to her father's garage in the pre
I was given an electronic copy by Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A Place We Knew Well is a historical fiction novel regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis, from the perspective of the Avery family. As an owner of a gas station in Florida, Avery had to deal with the gas shortages and the anxiety of his customers and friends. With the added pressure of a wife who is falling apart from stress, both due to the missile crisis and some personal
Thing Two
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
My mother was in the hospital giving birth as tanks rolled down the street in Florida, preparing to go to war with Cuba, in October, 1962. She's always talked about this experience, but I never quite understood until I picked up Susan Carol McCarthy's A Place We Knew Well.

Set in Orlando during the last week of October, 1962, this is the story of one man's view of the world from the gas station he owns. He watches his daughter prepare for homecoming. He watches his wife struggle with depression.
Amy Neftzger
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a book that will most likely appeal to history buffs, especially individuals interested in the cold war and family life in the early 60s. The story centers on a family living in central Florida during 1963 and how their lives intersect with the events of history while dealing with their own personal demons. The book definitely pulls the reader back into the time period, but be prepared for an experience of what the world was like before the women's liberation movement when women didn't h ...more
"Life, like the sea, comes at us hard," he could hear Old Pa saying. "It's kindness--simple human kindness---that buffers the blows."
A family drama set in central Florida, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Wes Avery is a successful gas station owner and dutiful family man. His once meticulous wife Sarah is slowly pulling away from the family, as she increasingly retreats to the family bomb shelter. His 17-year-old daughter Charlotte is nervous about the looming threat of nuclear war, but is a
Victoria Phelps
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it
This eBook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Susan McCarthy's A Place We Knew Well had intriguing characters and twists but a disappointingly slow beginning and flat ending.

The novel looks at the Cuban Missile Crisis through the eyes of a family living in suburban Florida. It examines the contrast between the cookie-cutter family values of the 60s and the mounting stresses of a potential World War III.

The characters of A Place We Knew Well are complex a
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I requested A Place We Knew Well because it was a family drama set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was just ten years old in 1962 and had little understanding of world politics. I only knew that the adults in my life were fixated on the small black and white television screen and I knew they were frightened and worried. So I was worried. It was years later that I associated those days of fear with the Crisis.

The novel starts in 2009 with a woman returning to what was her father's gas station,
Carolyn Feltus-atkinson
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I thought the plot was thin but I enjoyed the book because I grew up on Winter Park and, though it is set before my time, it was fun read about places I know.
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it
1962. It was Frosted Flakes, the Texaco star, Andy and Opie Taylor, Gunsmoke and Lawrence Welk. But it was also the Cold War, duck-and-cover drills, fallout shelters, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Susan Carol McCarthy's new novel A Place We Knew Well (Bantam, digital galley), set in Central Florida in the fall of 1962, is a curious mix of documentary and daytime soap, American Experience meets Search for Tomorrow.

McCarthy is very good at specifying the details of the era, from B-52 bombers lumbering
Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books
On this day in 1962 President Kennedy was notified that Russia had amassed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Despite how close we came to a third world war fiction about the Cuban Missile Crisis is not plentiful but author Susan Carol McCarthy makes it the focus of her new novel, A Place We Knew Well. The novel is set in Orlando, Florida, and is centered on Wes and Sarah Avery and their sixteen-year-old daughter, Charlotte. In them, McCarthy is able to bring to life the crisis from three very different ...more
A 2.5 star book, I'd say. It would've gotten a full 3 from me except for two things.

- One of the characters, Sarah Avery, a housewife who'd given up her youthful dreams of being an opera singer, kept pet parakeets in a cage. In the midst of a nervous breakdown brought on by years of various events in her life, she hysterically sets the birds free, then tells her husband "I wanted songbirds. Canaries! But I let the guy in the shop talk me into parakeets. I settled, Wes. And I never heard a single
Debra Schoenberger
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I felt like I was in an audience watching a stage play - where the scenes and sets change but the characters remain the same.

The cast: a mother, father and a daughter. School friends, work mates and a family member that was supposed to be dead. A small town thrown into chaos and fear.

Wes Avery, a World War II pilot senses that something isn't right. The local air force base begins flying in planes that shouldn't be there. His suspicions are confirmed when trains travel all night loaded with equ
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes (Daisy's Tea Garden Mystery #1)
  • Moral Compass
  • Upright Women Wanted
  • Valentine
  • The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell
  • Offer 2117 (Afdeling Q, #8)
  • Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness
  • Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination
  • True Porn Clerk Stories
  • Every Exquisite Thing
  • A Fine Dark Line
  • Lakewood
  • Grave Endings (Molly Blume, #3)
  • Blackberry Winter
  • A Girl's Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America's Secret Desert
  • Jack and Jill
  • The Assault on Reason
  • Roe v. Wade: The Untold Story of the Landmark Supreme Court Decision that Made Abortion Legal, Updated Edition
See similar books…

Related Articles

While dealing with her husband's illness, this debut author turned to the refuge of Jane Austen's work. That refuge turned into her highly anticipa...
88 likes · 13 comments