Madeline Landry’s role in life has always been made clear: As the eldest (and only) child in the leading gentry family in society, she must have a successful debut, marry and beget an heir. It doesn’t matter that Madeline wants a university education. Her father isn’t interested in her arguments that knowing business will make her a better owner of the Landry Park estate, that understanding science will allow her to appreciate her grandfather’s invention of the nuclear technology behind the Cherenkov lantern, or that appreciating history will give her insights into the Last War, when America lost all its land west of the Rockies to the Eastern Empire.
Madeline soon finds it almost impossible to change her father’s mind or the rules of this society where class is everything. At least her lot is better than that of a Rootless, who are condemned to poverty and early death after years of handling radioactive nuclear material in the lanterns that keep gentry homes bright. But all Madeline’s preconceptions about rules are about to be thrown into question when she meets and falls in love with a mysterious gentry boy named David Dana and gets involved in one of the most dangerous pastimes of this future America: revolution.
In Landry Park Bethany Hagen creates a fully realized dystopian setting that manages to weave together a believable nuclear future with costumes and customs reminiscent of “Downton Abbey.” Teens will be drawn to Madeline and her struggles to make sense of love, class, duty and ideals in a world where choices are never easy and actions have real consequences. In many ways, it’s a world not that different from ours.