Saturday, April 5, 2008

Module 6 Historical Fiction: The Green Glass Sea

The Green Glass Sea
Klages, Ellen. 2006. The Green Glass Sea. New York: Viking Press.

Dewey Kerrigan struggles to keep afloat as she charts her course in life. After her grandmother suffers a stroke and is forced to move into a nursing home, Dewey once again faces abandonment as she travels across the country to live with her often-absent father. Looking forward for the opportunity to spend time with him, she moves to a mysterious, uncharted town, Los Alamos, New Mexico, where Mr. Kerrigan works with scientists and engineers to create a secret ‘gadget’ during World War II. Dewey, with her love for order and rules moves in with Suze, an unruly, boorish classmate, when her father must leave again. The two begin to bond and find common ground in comic book heroes which act as somewhat of an allegory for the ‘larger than life’ world in which they find themselves. They escape into the comics as a way to find some sort of purpose for their gifts. Dewey, with her skills at machinery and technology and Suze with her gift of art and creativity come together to overcome their differences and face the world and all its problems. Set against the stark, primitive backdrop of the barren Southwest, Scott O’Dell Award Winner Ellen Klages paints a poignant picture of friendship, acceptance, and loss in The Green Glass Sea. The story stays true to the time period with appropriate dialog, phrases, music and entertainment references. Klages’ offers up some often overlooked impacts of the Los Alamos situation. The children and community members of that particular group faced many challenges such as when high school seniors wanted to apply to college they were denied because their school, much less, town did not even exist due to its top secret security. Family members cards and letters were screened as if they were prisoners. The title, itself, refers to the test bomb dropped on White Sands, New Mexico and how the heat of that event turned the sand to a ‘green glass sea’. Klages’ hits her mark with this one.

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