50 State Reading Challenge - The Art of Keeping Cool by Janet Taylor Lisle. Although it's a YA book and for grades 6-8, I think it would appeal to adults too and would make a great book club read. Told from the point of view of a teenage boy, the story covers the struggles and fears of east coast America during the WWII years - I didn't realize that U-Boats had been trawling for and sinking our allied ships off the U.S. coast. Forty-three ton Naval guns had been placed and the local base was camouflaged. Even a farmhouse wasn't what it seemed as it was made from concrete, painted to look like a farmhouse and the lookout was disguised as a chimney to the building. What we often forget about WWII was that the German people feared the Germans in power every bit as much as we did.
From the cover:
The year is 1942. Spring has come to a small village on the Rhode Island coast, and with it a regiment of soldiers and giant defensive guns emplaced in bunkers along the beaches. Offshore, Nazi submarines lie in wait for Allied convoy ships. The war in Europe seems far away, but residents in town keep a nervous eye on the ocean, and thirteen-year-old Robert and his cousin Elliot aren't the only ones taking an interest in a German abstract artist who's set up camp recently in woods near the shore. Many believe that he's a spy who roams at night signaling the enemy with a high-powered flash light. Elliot, who has a talent for drawing, is determined to seek out the artist for help with his art. Where else will he find anyone to teach him what he needs to know? Robert warns him against it, but Elliot can't stay away and the situation veers out of control. This is a story of dangers lurking inside and outside a community, of deceptive enemies and suspicions fanned to violence, and how two friends find their own very different ways of mastering the art of keeping cool.