Iowa Terror

Mike Palecek

Meet Jesus Iowa, a teen from Oaxaca, Mexico, whose family moves to a small Iowa town. Jesus leaves home and hearth after the Sept. 11 attacks, a move that partly heats up the community’s fears and hopes. Author Mike Palecek’s narrative voices both echo and skewer the White House of George W. Bush and the super-patriotism it seeks to spread. But Palecek pulls it off with his sharp ear for the everyday language of rural folks swept up in a political and reportorial culture of war. A former journalist for small Midwest newspapers, Palecek’s grasp of character, place and time impresses. In concise and big-format chapters, he sketches intriguing portraits of fictional Iowans as they hang laundry, judge sheep and swim, ever keen to orange-coded security alerts to repel terrorists. Vibrant illustrations of four talented artists also illuminate the book. Iowa Terror’s key virtue is to give readers, especially younger ones, a fictional entry into critical thinking on peace and war, and America’s immigrants, present and past.