Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 2, 2007

What I’m Reading: The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

I thought this historical novel, set in Los Alamos while some of the world’s best scientists were developing the atomic bomb (here called “the gadget”) was fantastic. Klages keeps within the points of view of Dewey and Suze who are able to make some guesses – some right, some wrong – about what their parents, bound to secrecy by the military (most after lives spent in university towns) are up to, but the two girls are more preoccupied with their own quests re identity, loneliness and friendship. Dewey is deftly portrayed as a budding engineer while Suze is believable as a twelve year old artist coming into her own. The parents’ secrets create a level of tension that doesn’t take the forefront, and there are great period details: the Kool Aid, Woolworths, kids who read comic books in tree houses or collect junk at the dump without parental interference. The novel ends with the explosion that changed the world barely registering, but we can smell the distant smoke, and feel ill at ease with the burning, even while we understand, at last, the title, and the events in the girls’ lives come to a satisfying conclusion.

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