Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Green Glass Sea

So, imagine my surprise upon finishing this and then hearing from my friend Jen, that she had just attended a dinner for this very book! Timely, indeed.

As a Canadian, I really didn't learn much in school about the whole Los Alamos thing, so besides being enjoyable, I found The Green Glass Sea to be quite the learning experience as well.

Dewey and her dad have been making it on their own for a long time. Now that the war is on, however, Dewey's dad's scientific thinking has taken him away from her. First to Nana's place while Daddy was in Chicago, and then to New Mexico. To a place called "the hill" that's not even on a map. Dewey doesn't care so much about the standard issue housing, or the fact that the other kids call her Screwey Dewey...because at least she is back together with Daddy.

The kids on the hill really do have to make it on their own. All of their folks are military or scientists of some kind, and they aren't even allowed to discuss their work with their own families. Dewey and the other kids know that their parents are working on a "gadget", that will hopefully end the war.

This is a quiet and poignant look at the lives of the everyday people who were gathered up to work on "the bomb", as we used to call it. Oppie and Fermi are there, but so are regular families that just happen to have scientist parents.

A particularly thoughtful scene is when Suze's parents take Dewey and Suze out to "trinity" -- the testing site. The desert has turned to green glass. The girls are walking on it and taking chunks of it home. Suze's dad says that it's not "too hot". Let me tell you, as a parent knowing what we know now, my heart was in my throat. Can you imagine?

This quiet character driven story would work well for fans of Peach Hill, A Drowned Maiden's Hair, or even Private Peaceful. As someone said to me, it has a very Stand By Me feel, that translates easily to adults as well.

This is a story that will stay with me.

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