The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages; Viking
Children’s Books: New York, 2006; $16.99
Suze reached in and picked up a book, riffling the pages with a thumb. The Boy Mechanic, she said, snickering. “Why do you have that?‘
“They didn’t make one for girls,” Dewey replied.
Have you ever done something that you really enjoyed, but you were the only one of your gender doing it? Well, know that you’re not alone, because Dewey Kerrigan, a character from The Green Glass Sea, and I feel the same way.
Both Dewey and I enjoy doing what are considered boyish things. I like to run, bike, practice karate, and play basketball and soccer. Dewey likes doing things such as taking apart radios and going to the dump to get scrap hardware.
In the 194os, it seems almost as if it were against the law for girls to be doing such things. In the book, Dewey is even referred to as Screwy Dewey. I suppose these thoughts and stereotypes have lessened over the years, but even now when I go to get basketball shoes, I get remarks such as, “I’m sure your brother will love these shoes.” In fact, I am an only child!
Dewey is an only child, too. She obtained her love of boyish things from her father, because her mother was no longer a part of her life. Her mother abandoned Dewey and Mr. Kerrigan when Dewey was only two years old.
Dewey is living with her scientist father in a secluded community called The Hill, in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Hill is secluded because the people living there are some of the people who helped create the Manhattan Project (a.k.a. the atom bomb), which helped America win World War II.
Having a father whose work was so closely related to the war meant that Dewey’s dad couldn’t share much about what was going on at work. This was a pity for Dewey because she was captivated by all the science and math involved in making the atom bomb. I can relate to this because my parents are government employees and they talk about work together and keep most of the stories concealed from me.
One intriguing thing that I learned was that the creators of the atom bomb tested it out in southern New Mexico, before using it against Japan. What is left of the explosion looks like there is a… yes, you guessed it, a “green glass sea.”
The story goes on to show that Dewey continues to be successful as a girl in a male-dominated world. I believe these types of stories help young people, like me, learn that we can achieve what we set our minds to do. Along the way, the story also helps us learn about history The author mixes fact with fiction in an interesting way.
Ellen Klages, the author, deserves a pat on the back for this magnificent novel. She lives in my city San Francisco, so I hope to meet her someday. She is also working on the sequel to this novel entitled, White Sands, Red Menace. I truly enjoyed the story and I am certain that anyone nine or older who reads it will, too. Happy reading!