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Deborah Sweaney reading and signing Up in the Air

Deborah Sweaney will be presenting a talk on her second book, Up in the Air, on Saturday, March 28, from 1-2:30 p.m. in the upstairs rooms of Whistlestop Bookshop.

In her second memoir about growing up in rural Oregon, Missouri, Deborah Sweaney highlights a tale of two communities. Rooted in farming, situated just down the road from one another, both towns cling to their long-standing cultural differences as they face-off in opposition to a school merger. It was unthinkable that some far-away government agency could mandate their schools and their identity -but mandate they did.

These little towns were being robbed of something precious that they had built and nurtured for decades. The schools were the center of life for many self-contained communities and the natural rivalries that had flourished were happily played out with enthusiasm on football fields and basketball courts all over our country. And everyone, it seemed, was just fine with that.

While larger issues like racial equality, a war southeast Asia and the horror of assassinations were just on the national horizon, school students like those in Oregon, Missouri were feeling their own unrest and sense of insecurity over the uncertainty that was clouding their once self-contained world.

Up in the Air is at once a look at the enormous social maelstrom that defines the 1960's and the up-close impact those cultural changes were having on the everyday lives of the ordinary citizens and school kids in two country towns in Holt County, Missouri. For these folks and millions like them, the outcome was and perhaps still is, Up in the Air.

Some of the proceeds from "Up in the Air" will go toward education programs and scholarships administered by the Iris and Frank Sweaney Fund and National History Da