Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Green Glass Sea", by Ellen Klages

Ellen Klages' "The Green Glass Sea" captured the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and won numerous other recommendations and honors. The meaning of the title is not revealed until the last - the fireball of the Los Alamos atomic bomb test, three weeks before Hiroshima, turned seventy-five acres of the desert into glass (a new mineral scientists called Trinitite). Klages stumbled upon the existence of the glass as mere bylines during her Los Alamos book research, and the glass "sea" serves as a final focal point for one of her two main characters, Dewey, to heal her personal emotional turmoil. That turmoil encompasses both her personal tragedy and the mixed blessings of the creation of the bomb, the atomic age - both its destruction and its awe-inspiring wonder - borne of creative, scientific minds and a furvent desire for the better good.

Alternately told in first person by two young girls, this is a novel which skillfully explains historical, philosophical dilemmas in the context of family and growing friendship. It actively encourages girls to pursue their dreams and talents in the field of science, and to open their minds to creativity. Further, it discourages negative, female teen social cliques and promotes kindness in the face of social pressures. All this, and yet not at all too heady for young readers! A good novel for all teens, especially girls, aged 11-15.

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