January 31, 2012

A green glass sea

by Ellen Klages

We first meet eleven-year-old Dewey Kerrigan on a train to New Mexico. She's reuniting with her father, whom she hasn't seen for four months. A mathematician, he's at work on a top secret project. It's some sort of gadget that will hopefully end the war. 

Dewey finds Los Alamos, a town that doesn't officially exist, a wonderful place. A lover of electronics and mechanical objects, she's thrilled to meet other scientists. She also enjoys trips to the town dump, where she can find useful material for her own inventions. Unfortunately, her interests also make her a target of bullies led by bossy Suze Gordon. Suze, however, is also an outsider whose attempts to fit in are mostly unsuccessful. When Dewey's father has to go on a work trip, she comes to stay with Suze's family. The two girls gradually become friends while we start to learn more about the Manhattan Project. Both of them, even the scientists in charge, aren't fully aware of how "the gadget" is going change the world.

An excellent, moving novel set in uncertain times. It's especially nice to meet girls who are intelligent, artistic, and interested in science and mechanics. Their characters - Dewey's bravery and Suze's growing maturity - are sensitively portrayed.

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