White Sands, Red Menace

White Sands, Red Menace

4.7 17
by Ellen Klages

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It is 1946. World War II is over-ended by the atomic bomb that Dewey Kerrigan's and Suze Gordon's scientist parents helped build. Dewey's been living with the Gordons since before the war's end, before her father died, moving south with them to Alamogordo, New Mexico. At the White Sands Missile Range, Phil Gordon is working on rockets that will someday go to the

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It is 1946. World War II is over-ended by the atomic bomb that Dewey Kerrigan's and Suze Gordon's scientist parents helped build. Dewey's been living with the Gordons since before the war's end, before her father died, moving south with them to Alamogordo, New Mexico. At the White Sands Missile Range, Phil Gordon is working on rockets that will someday go to the moon; at home, Terry Gordon is part of the scientists? movement against the Bomb. Dewey and Suze have conflicts of their own. Where does a girl who likes physics and math fit in? How do you know the right time to speak up and the right time to keep your head down? And, most important of all: What defines a family?

Editorial Reviews

Mary Quattlebaum
…this carefully researched novel deserves high marks for tackling a historical period little explored in fiction for young people. Ellen Klages vividly captures the mood of a jittery nation and of girls beginning to question the gender- and race-bound rules that mandate Home Ec for females, forbid them to take classes in mechanical drawing and divide a border town along racial lines.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Picking up a year after the close of The Green Glass Sea, this strong sequel finds Suze and Dewey (short for Duodecima) living near Los Alamos with Suze's scientist parents, who with Dewey's late father had helped build the atom bomb. In the aftermath of Hiroshima, Suze's mother has begun organizing scientists against war, while her father throws himself into his work to maintain the U.S.'s edge over the Soviets and "Uncle Joe." This tense drama weaves family conflict with difficult political history: after a Thanksgiving dinner, Suze discovers that the guest her father has invited, an ex-Nazi who is now his colleague, helped run a German bomb factory where 20,000 slave laborers died. Equally gripping are the ongoing, rarely voiced struggles at home, not just between the parents but between the girls and their uneasy rivalry for Suze's mother's attention and affection. Klages has a gift for opening moral dilemmas to middle-graders-she includes (and sources) just enough information to engage her readers without detracting from her characters' emotional lives. Once again she offers up first-rate historical fiction. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

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KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
This is the sequel to Ellen Klages's award-winning novel, The Green Glass Sea. Suze Gordon and Dewey Kerrigan have moved to Alamagordo, New Mexico where Suze's father is working on a rocket ship with German scientists who have come over after WW II. Suze's mother, the other Dr. Gordon, is working to raise awareness of the atomic bomb and the horrors the atomic age has wrought. Dewey's late father had been one of the scientists involved in the atomic bomb, so her connection to the Gordons is one of familiarity and science. In the attic of their house, Suze and Dewey are using their interest and talents in art and science to create "The Wall." The Wall is a sculpture of sorts that has moving parts and so requires the girls to dig around in junkyards and scrap heaps. It also leads to Dewey's friendship with Owen Parker, a school classmate with a similar interest in things scientific and mechanical. Suze's other best friend is Ynez, whose family lives on the other side of Tenth Street, hinting at the biases and prejudices of the early 1950s. There is animosity and the normal jealousies of girls as they find their way through family situations, but they also share compatible interests and an awakening social conscience that holds them together. This is a gentle, subtle story about relationships that can stand on its own without a reading of the earlier novel. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal

Gr 5-9

In this sequel to The Green Glass Sea (Viking, 2006), Dewey and the Gordon family have relocated from Los Alamos to Alamogordo, NM, now that World War II is over, because Mr. Gordon has been offered a job to develop rockets for the U.S. government. Dewey and Suze Gordon are comfortable with one another, almost like sisters, and begin eighth grade together at a new school, where they are required to take home economics instead of shop. Suze's mother has had to put her academic career as a chemist on hold and is struggling with her growing estrangement from her husband, based primarily on their different positions about the atomic bomb. But Dewey relishes the close bond that she is developing with Mrs. Gordon, only to have it disrupted by the arrival of her birth mother, who left Dewey and her dad when she was two. Superbly written and rich in detail, Klages's novel once again nails the uncertainty that many Americans experienced after the truths of Hiroshima began to surface. History is intricately woven into the story of these memorable characters, and issues such as self-identity, family, and racism are explored. The desert heat is palpable, the immense expanses are easily visualized, and the roles that women and minorities played in the late 1940s are painfully evident. The only problem is minor-the threat in this volume is not "red" communism, but rather ex-Nazis and the atomic research itself, so the title might mislead readers. Nonetheless, this book is every bit as powerful as its predecessor.-Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN

Kirkus Reviews
In the sequel to The Green Glass Sea (2006), 12-year-old Suze, parents Terry and Phil, and 13-year-old Dewey have moved to Alamogordo, N.M., where Phil Gordon is assisting with rocket experiments following detonation of the first atomic bombs in 1945. Scientifically minded Dewey (previously taken in by the Gordons after her father's death) gets along well with Suze as they face a series of issues: Terry's anger over her husband's involvement in the atomic project and her unexpected pregnancy, the reappearance of Dewey's mother, who abandoned her as a toddler, Dewey's budding romance with a classmate and Suze's occasional jealousy over Dewey's comfortable place in the family. Told in the third person, the point-of-view subtly switches by chapter between the two girls. Although alluding to issues of the atomic age, that is not a focus of this story, which sensitively portrays the early coming-of-age of two likable characters in a unique setting. Although it works well as a stand-alone, this tale will leave readers anxious to pick up the preceding work. (Historical fiction. 10 & up)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.89(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

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