Jackie's Reviews > The Green Glass Sea

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
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's review
Aug 06, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: children-fiction, caudill-2009, historical, friendship, wars-wwii
Read in August, 2008

History mixes with fiction in this Rebecca Caudill nominee for 2009.The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages tells the tale of a small, yet loving family in Los Alamos, New Mexico during WWII. Dewey Kerrigan, 11, is a girl interested in science, when girls weren't thought of as scientists. She lives with her father, Dr. Jack Kerrigan, a Harvard physics professor, on a desolate camp in New Mexico, as he works for the government with other scientists on a top secret project known as 'the gadget'. The gadget supposedly will end the war with Japan. Dewey isn't quite sure what it is or what it will do, but she does know that her father and the other scientists have been working on it tirelessly and endlessly . Her father told her the U.S.A. is racing to perfect the gadget before other countries do. She rarely sees her father as he often works late into the night on the government project. But, Dewey is happy to be on her own, working on her own projects she creates with cast-off materials. One day, her father draws her close and tells her he must leave on a secret mission and she will live with another family, the Gordons, while he is away. Dr. Kerrigan promises to be away only a couple of weeks. She admires Dr. and Mrs. Gordon, both scientists, but is not overly fond of their daughter, Suze. Suze has teased her in the past, for both her tiny size and her interest in science. Suze is a budding artist and eventually Dewey takes an interest in Suze's love of creating artistic dioramas out of miscellaneous junk. Together, they find a way to bond through their mutual love of creating things out of nothing, whether it is science-based or artistic-based. Dewey comfortably eases into a routine with the Gordon family. As Dr. Kerrigan's mission stretches into many weeks, much longer than he anticipated, Dewey misses him, but she is safe and happy. One day, however, tragic news arrives on the doorstep, as Dewey is told her father died in an unfortunate accident. Dewey becomes withdrawn as bewilderment and uncertainty cloud her future. She fears what her future could bring when the gadget is completed.

One hot July summer night the whole scientific community and their families watch from afar as the gadget is tested. Dewey and Suze learn that the scientists were working on an atomic bomb which would possibly be used on Japan to bring the war to an end. Dr. and Mrs. Gordon, although not privy to the timing or use of the bomb, are at odds with one another about its devastating effects. Some three weeks later after the test, Dr. and Mrs. Gordon take Suze and Dewey to the test site. The resulting outcome is the glass-like stones that were created when the bomb was tested. Dr. Gordon tells them, "it was so hot that is melted the ground. Over one hundred million degrees. Hotter than the sun itself. It fused seventy-five acres of this desert sand into glass."

Just imagine what the gadget would do to all living things...


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