The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

Green Glass SeaGrowing up with parents in the military is a unique and often challenging experience for children. Growing up with parents in Academia is an all together different, but equally unique experience. Suze Gordon and Dewey Kerrigan experience both in The Green Glass Sea. Dewey and Suze are the children of scientists who are charged by the government in the 1940’s with the task of creating a “gadget” that will end World War II. Suze and her family move from Berkley, CA where both of her parents are college professors to a military base Los Alamos, New Mexico. Dewey moves with her often traveling, scientist single father to the same location. Since their parents work long hours, the children on the base are often left to their own devices. Though she desperately wants to make friends, Suze’s overbearing personality and take charge attitude make it hard for her to make friends with the other children on the base. Dewey is exceptionally smart, even compared to the bright children of the scientists living on the base and would rather spend time collecting scrap nuts and bolts in the base’s dump than play with the other kids in her class. Her preoccupation with building her own gadgets coupled with the fact that she has one leg that is significantly shorter than the other because of an accident when she was a baby, leads to Dewey gaining the nickname “Screwy Dewey” among the other children.

Suze and Dewey are thrust together when Dewey’s father has to leave the base to work in Washington D.C. and Suze’s mother offers to let Dewey stay with the Gordon’s. Suze is devastated to have to live with “Screwy Dewey” and makes it clear from the start that she is NOT happy about this arrangement. However, as the war rages on and their parents are further absent making headway on the “Gadget”, Suze and Dewey find they have more in common than they thought.

What I loved about this book is that it Klages was able to create such strong, well defined characters within the backdrop of World War II and the creation of the Atom Bomb. The time period was so well researched, and the story dripped with historical and culture references without being hokey or too “teach-y”. I felt like a learned a lot about what it would be like to live in Los Alamos, New Mexico while the Atom bomb was being developed while never being too distracted to stop caring about the many plot lines surrounding Suze and Dewey’s time there. Suze and Dewey were characters that anyone over the age of 9 could easily identify with, experiencing typical challenges and feelings that any eleven year old has. Being set in the historical context of World War II and with scientists developing the Atom Bomb, added a richness to their stories that is sure to intrigue many readers. This book is a great choice for anyone who likes stories with strong characters, history or stories about friendship.

Posted by: Kelly

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