February 21, 2007

A Radioactive Rock Collection

An absorbing novel about science, history and family, Ellen Klages' The Green Glass Sea is the 2007 Winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a book whose characters will stay with you for a long, long time.

1943 is the year that changes everything for Dewey Kerrigan. Her Nana goes into a home, and she is shunted off on the neighbor until a woman from the Army comes to pick her up. She thought her father was coming to get her. She thinks she is going to Chicago. But none of that is true - her father has been working on a government secret, and she is off to live in a dusty desert town called Los Alamos, hours away across the country. She is dropped off just in time to catch the train, and travel to him -- alone.

'Screwy Dewey' is ostracized and ignored by most of the girls, since she's ten, and she's got more in common with the boys who are older who tinker with "stuff." She loves Los Alamos; the freedom, the scientific minds at every turn, there to explain things, to help her put together radios, allowing her to scrounge in their cast-off tools to create on her own. She is absorbed in this wondrous land, knowing only that the adults are busy with "war work;" working on the "Gadget" that will end the war.

Clearly and deliberately written, delving into the secretive nature of the community and slowly revealing the truth to both Dewey and the girls in her community, this novel is about loss and the loss of innocence, as well as about finding your place again.

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