The Green Glass Sea – Ellen Klages

Dewey Kerrigan is a misfit who knows it. Suze Gordon is a misfit who feels it. They both live in with their scientists-parents in one of the most secret places in the world: Los Alamos, New Mexico during the Second World War.

The Green Glass Sea starts by showing us the world as seen by Dewey Kerrigan, and ends with us looking through Suze Gordon’s eyes. Dewey is brilliant – an inventor, experimenter, mathematician, physicist…a girl who reads The Boy Mechanic, who skips three grades in math, who builds robots and radios, who is in science-geek heaven, surrounded by people who have the answers to her questions…and if the girls at school are unbearably mean, she doesn’t seem to care. Suze is artistically gifted and socially awkward. The more desperately she tries to fit in, the more she comes off as bossy, pushy and mean. And she can’t seem to understand why no one likes her, no matter how hard she tries to be cool. Dewey and Suze are extremes in the misfit world, but every grade school had a Dewey and a Suze. Maybe they were boys instead of girls, or maybe they were the same person (geeky misfit bully) but make no mistake: they were there, starved for friendship and acceptance into the pack.

Suze despises Dewey, because Dewey doesn’t fit in and Suze can’t associate herself with anything or anyone that makes her stand out more. Dewey more or less sees that Suze is trying to fit in, Darwin-style. Although she doesn’t say anything, she thinks Suze is a jerk. Predictably, circumstances and parents throw the two girls together and, somehow, they begin to understand each other and become friends.

Like I said, the book starts with Dewey. And it caught me right away. I wanted to know what she thought, I could see her doing the things she did, I wanted to know what happened to her. And then there was a gradual shift to Suze and I stopped caring as much. I kept reading – Suze still sees Dewey, and Suze’s mom is pretty cool, and I cared about Dewey. But I just didn’t care about Suze, her thoughts, her feelings, her “character development”. I feel badly about not liking Suze’s storytelling. Perhaps I’m not artistic enough to understand her temperament; or maybe I just can’t forgive bullies no matter what their “reasons” are (yes, I was a bullied misfit in school; yes, I still hold a grudge).

Reading Age: It’s hard to say.  A mature 11 would enjoy it, but it still has enough meat in it to be enjoyed all the way up to 14-15. It’s quite an accomplishment to write something that is enjoyable for everyone.

Rating: A for Dewey and B- for Suze. Sorry Suze, but your glad-handing in the last third of the book just didn’t make up for how bleeping bleepy you are. I don’t forgive you.

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