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The Green Glass Sea

(The Gordon Family Saga #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  6,820 ratings  ·  995 reviews
It is 1943, and 11-year-old Dewey Kerrigan is traveling west on a train to live with her scientist father, but no one, not her father nor the military guardians who accompany her, will tell her exactly where he is. When she reaches Los Alamos, New Mexico, she learns why: he's working on a top secret government program. Over the next few years, Dewey gets to know eminent sc ...more
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published October 19th 2006 by Viking Books
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Colin Harper a) so the Germans and Japanese didn't attack it and steal the data. B) no, I don't think so. Suze did though…morea) so the Germans and Japanese didn't attack it and steal the data. B) no, I don't think so. Suze did though(less)

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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  6,820 ratings  ·  995 reviews

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Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Oct 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: highly to anyone who enjoys novels, to all 9 & up including adults
Some time needs to elapse for me to see if this book makes as much of an imprint on me as it now seems, but this is one I might consider for my favorites shelf.

In this novel everything so vivid: the feelings and thoughts and actions of the characters, the many descriptions of food, the train ride, the community, the terrain, the record albums, so much, all of it.

The author is a terrific storyteller, and this is a perfectly crafted book.

I loved the main character Dewey. In real life I would have
Jane Lebak
This book, it strikes me, is everything wrong with children's literature. As an adult book it would be a four-star book, but as a children's book it's a 2-star book.


Summary: two awkward girls meet at the army base in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project and eventually become friends.

That's the whole plot, right there. ^^ The characters are good, but children who are reading stories aren't really in it for the lush landscape descriptions or the deep introspections o
It was foolish of me to think reading one chapter late last night was a good idea. I read the whole book, and sobbed. It was late enough when I started. Sigh.

What an unusual topic, and how vividly depicted and beautifully written. I loved Dewey's interaction with real people, not overdone but very convincing. Lots of little touches were fascinating, as for instance, the difficulty applying to college from a school that didn't exist, or the casual description of a five cent package of Koolaid as
I need to read this book! The paperback version includes the author's Scott O'Dell acceptance speech, which has one of my favorite statements about historical fiction:

"A lot of people think history is boring. It's just names and dates and facts that you have to memorize for a test...Up until last October, I was primarily a science fiction writer. Which means I'm in a unique position to recognize that this -- [holds up The Green Glass Sea] -- is a time machine. Because that's really what we want
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Luann by: Lisa Vegan
When I was in high school, I did an extra credit report on Oppenheimer, "Little Boy," and "Fat Man." It was all new to me, and so interesting and horrifying that I have always been very interested in that area of history. This is a work of historical fiction about the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb and their families. It is told from the point of view of the children, who were not given many details of the highly classified project and thus not many details make it into the story. The ...more
I really wanted to like this book. Really. Unfortunately, I didn't. The historical setting of Los Alamos was intriguing, but I had qualms with the plot and its predicatbility. It moved rather slowly for me and also didn't say enough about how devastating the Gadget was.


I couldn't understand for the life of me why the Gadget's effects of creating the Green Glass Sea were supposed to be a fitting last connection between Dewey and her father. This turn of events didn't sit well with me a
Brooke W
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ꪑꪖᦔꫀꪶ꠸ꪀꫀ
Shelves: cover-love
The Green Glass Sea was thoroughly enjoyable. I'm not normally a fan of historical fiction but The Green Glass Sea was so much fun and engaging!

I felt very invested in the characters. I loved seeing them grow and face hardships of the war. The characters were well written and I enjoyed each perspective! The friendship between the two main characters is so sweet and I like both of their stories and developments.

Plot: While it wasn't very complicated and not the focus of the book I can still tell
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Dewey’s dad is a scientist and ever since WWII began, he’s been helping the government with a top secret project. When Dewey’s grandma has a stroke, she travels by herself to a secret military base in New Mexico. Even though she’s only ten years old, she has always liked math and science and making her own little projects from stray gears and nuts and bolts. Along with her leg brace and glasses, this makes her an easy target for other kids to pick on her.

At the new base where she lives with her
I think we have a winner for my rarely given, 5-stars of love rating!

What a great book! What a great book for girls! I read this aloud to my daughter, and we both greatly enjoyed the story of Dewey, a science loving girl, who goes to live with her father, who is working on a government project for the war in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a place that doesn't officially exist.

The mystery and the secrecy that was Los Alamos, The Manhattan Project, "the gadget", and the Trinity test is brought to life t
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
3.5 stars

1944. After her Nana has a stroke, Dewey finds herself traveling across the country to New Mexico to meet her father at his mysterious research facility. There, she meets mean Suze, who bullies her in order to look cool to the other girls. Things heat up when Dewey's father has to go to Washington, DC, for a while and Dewey is forced to stay with Suze. Can these two enemies set aside their differences?

I wanted to like this book a whole lot more than I did. I think it's because I'd alrea
Morgan Dhu
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ellen Klages' YA historical novel Green Glass Sea is a wonderful read. Set during World War II, it is the story of ten-year-old Dewey Kerrigan, whose mathematician father has been recruited to work on the top-secret program to develop a nuclear bomb.

Dewey's mother left the family when Dewy was a baby, and she has grown up being shuffled between her father and her maternal grandmother - but now that her father is settled for the time bring in Los Alamos and her grandmother has been incapacitated
Hanne T
*waves frantically in the air and shoves in everyone's faces*

Never mind that it was a school book--it's now on my favorites shelf. Why?

It's historical fiction, WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY THE BEST
Then, it's WWII, which I'm a sucker for...
And then, it's sciency, which makes everything the besttttt
AND THEN, it's friendship and girls and people and wwii and EVERYTHING
And that ending was soooooo well planned and play omgns

And then the kicker.
It. Made. Me. Cry.
*mic drop*

Connie Johnson
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story has it all and l zipped through it. Dewey is such a strong, quiet character, and I enjoyed getting to know her.
In 1943, 11-year-old Dewey is on her way to spend some time with her mathematician father after her grandmother suffers a stroke and can no longer take care of her. Her father has been absent since the beginning of the War and now lives at Los Alamos, working on a secret project which is only referred to as “the gadget” throughout the book. The Gadget is of course, the atomic bomb and Los Alamos is the secret location of the Manhattan Project.

There, Dewey is left mostly to her own devices – quit
Lisa Mandina
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Yet another recorded in my reading journal but never added to Goodreads. 3 stars since I can't remember. ...more
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
I was uncomfortable reading this book because of the title and the subject matter. I've been to Los Alamos and know about the green glass of the title. Geiger counters were not very accurate back then, and scientists didn't know which levels of radiation would have lasting effects. I cringed at the end of the book, knowing not only what the radio report on Hiroshima would mean for the world, but what the shoe box full of green glass would mean for Dewey and the Gordons. Whew! Hard one to finish ...more
This work of historical fiction tells the story of the Manhattan Project through the eyes of some of the children who might have experienced it by proxy as their parents (scientists affiliated with the project) worked on it in secret.

Dewey Kerrigan comes to live with her father in New Mexico when she is eleven. She’s small for her age and doesn’t fit in well with other kids. Also, one of her legs is longer than the other due to a childhood accident. She’s really smart, though, and fascinated by
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
There were things I liked about this book. The day-in-the-life narrative of children in Los Alamos was interesting historically. The characters, while pretty one dimensional, were endearing. I almost could have given it one more star, but because it was kind of simplistic (both the cliched characters and plot) it made me wonder how well researched this was, or if this was just what the author imagined it would be. Also, I really disliked the ending, the spoiler is really mild (I'm sure you know ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Dewey (11) lives in a town which can't be named. Her father, a scientist, works on a "gadget" (along with hundreds of others) that can't be discussed. Welcome to daily life in the Manhattan project.

Characters the reader can relate to with understandable and clear prose. Readers get the feel of what it's like for children living in Los Alamos while their parents build the Atom bomb.

Klages has a good grasp on what it's like to be a kid when it comes to: not being privy to information, the relation
An educational read for me in the form of a simple adolescent story. I've read on multiple occasions about how Hitler rounded up brilliant and elite German minds to work under his reign, but was ignorant to the American civilian scientists who were brought together to work in this secret community on The Manhattan Project. I had never before read about the making of the atomic bomb, Los Alamos, or Trinity and the Green Glass Sea. This little book strongly supports the author's statement that his ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Standing in the gift store of the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History - a fun and geeky store in a terrific small museum (in Albuquerque) - I asked an employee (who obviously loved working in the store) for a book recommendation. This is what I bought as a result (intending it as a two-fer, hoping that one or both of my sons might allso read it), and it was a pleasant surprise. On one level, this is a comfortable, easily accessible fictional historical snapshot - through the eyes of t ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I feel like this is a book that teachers in middle school make you read when you are learning about the home front in ww2 in America. It wasn’t bad, but I never felt truly connected to any of the characters, the closest I got was the mom.

Also what was up with all of the “we arent like other girls!” stuff?? It was such a big theme in the second half of the book. I understand that this book was trying to inspire young girls to get involved with arts and science, but shitting on other girls becaus
Steve Garriott
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful kid's-eye-view of the history-changing events at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a cloistered community of scientists, mathematicians, and their families live together and work toward the goal of creating the first atomic bomb. As you can imagine, we only see things peripherally as the project was secret, especially for the children, but real historical figures make their appearances. I won't spoil who they are. ...more
It's November 1943, and budding inventor Dewey Kerrigan is on her way to New Mexico to live with her father. When she arrives, she finds that she'll be living in Los Alamos, where her father is involved with a secret project which has something to do with the war. I liked this a lot: the writing is lucid, and the depiction of the time and place is absorbing and convincing. ...more
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was more like 4.5 stars, but still really good! The story line was very intriguing, keeping my interest through the whole book. The topic of the book was something that we had never really learned about in any social studies class, and I found it to be very interesting. Overall, I think that this was a very good book, and one that many people could easily enjoy.
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good historical fiction book. I don't know if I'm going to read the second book because this one ended on a very good note. All of the characters continued to develop throughout the story which was good. At times it was slow so rafts why it has a four and not a five out of five stars. Overall easy read! ...more
Laura (Book Scrounger)
3.5 stars

Very interesting idea for a story, focusing on two girls who (gradually) become friends in Los Alamos while their parents work on the first atomic bomb during WW2. Many of the scenes were somewhat slow and detailed, but clearly a lot of research went into this.
Shawna Shade
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it

I am a huge fan of Historical Fiction and I can easily justify my binge reading because I am also learning history, even though sometimes authors spend less time on the history part and more time on the fiction part in some books. Thankfully, the author of The Green Glass Sea did her research. The fiction element of the story I did not enjoy as much only because the story of Dewey - the main character- is so sad and I am a sucker for happy endings, however, there is rarely a happy ending when wa
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Ellen Klages was born in Ohio, and now lives in San Francisco.

Her short fiction has appeared in science fiction and fantasy anthologies and magazines, both online and in print, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Black Gate, and Firebirds Rising. Her story, "Basement Magic," won the Best Novelette Nebula Award in 2005. Several of her other stories have been on the final ballot f

Other books in the series

The Gordon Family Saga (3 books)
  • White Sands, Red Menace (Green Glass #2)
  • Out of Left Field

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