May 18, 11
Read from May 14 to 18, 2011
this book came highly recommended, though the friend who recommended it pointed out that i might want to wait a couple of years before sharing it with my 8-year-old. i'm not sure how long i'll wait; it's a beautiful book that i do want to share with her, but i'm not ready yet to introduce the concept of the atomic bomb, or what happened during world war 2 that propelled the US to use it. that said, lots of children's fiction--maybe even most of it--deals with disturbing themes (parental death being the default plot-driver for much of what my kids read), and the recent assassination of osama bin laden led to some conversations i would've preferred to delay a little longer...my point being, i guess, that a general description of certain relevant historical events probably won't introduce too much new anxiety into my daughter's worldview. this is a story about friendship, and about growing up, but it is also very much a story about life in los alamos and the development of the bomb, and the implications of that technology are front and center in the novel. i would've read the book just for the background it gave me on the manhattan project and what went on in los alamos, even if the story of dewey kerrigan and suze gordon hadn't grabbed me, but it did. this book has the requisite smart, science-oriented girl protagonist, and a healthy dose of parental loss, but it also has a lot of evocative imagery and an emotional power that comes from knowing what "the gadget" was and how it changed the world. the chapters that describe the tests at trinity and the green glass sea are particularly powerful. i would encourage parents to read this book with their children, not only because of the weighty subject matter but also because many details of 1940s life will be mysterious to kids, but it is an excellent book that's worth sharing with them.