Published by Penguin on October 19th 2006
It is 1943, and 11-year-old Dewey Kerrigan is traveling west on a train to live with her scientist fatherâ€”but no one, not her father nor the military guardians who accompany her, will tell her exactly where he is. When she reaches Los Alamos, New Mexico, she learns why: he's working on a top secret government program. Over the next few years, Dewey gets to know eminent scientists, starts tinkering with her own mechanical projects, becomes friends with a budding artist who is as much of a misfit as she isâ€”and, all the while, has no idea how the Manhattan Project is about to change the world. This book's fresh prose and fascinating subject are like nothing you've read before.
This is one of those books that I purely picked up because of where it takes place. I am born and raised in New Mexico and anytime I come across a book that features New Mexico, I of course have to pick it up. I’m actually really glad that I did with this one! This book takes place in Los Alamos at the time of them building the atomic bombs. While that is the setting and the time frame, the focus was definitely on Suze and Dewey growing up.
Dewey is a little girl genius and I loved her. She was pretty unique and definitely true to herself. She embraced the things that she enjoyed and didn’t entirely care about what others thought of her. She had a strong relationship with her dad and he really seemed to support her in her adventures of building all these things and learning and what not. I did feel really bad for her though. She had to go through some tough situations, but I’m glad that she was able to really overcome them.
Suze was a little bit of a bad egg when we first meet her. I think that once she starts spending more time with Dewey she really comes into her own and grows as a person. She starts to open up a bit more and that was nice to see. I liked that her intelligence was in a different form than Dewey. It shows that there is more than just one kind of intelligence. I really liked her mom as well. She was super nice and smart and was really there for both Suze and Dewey. Yay for smart women! I also liked that she played a bit of a moral role in the things that were happening amidst the adults (with building ‘The Gadget’).
I can’t help but wonder how accurate this is. I can only imagine being in this military encampment where no one can really talk about what’s going on. I feel like some of the adults probably had an idea of what was going on, but certainly none of the kids did. Even the adults though didn’t quite understand the ramifications of their actions. Suze’s mom tried to be that voice of reason, but no one really paid much attention to her in regards to that. I also don’t think they understood the impact this type of bomb could have. A few days later they decide to go the bomb site! I wonder how many of the workers and what not dealt with the side effects of radiation years later. This is definitely a topic I will try to read more about. My interest is piqued!
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I’m happy that there is a sequel (which I already own) since I do want to see more of Dewey and Suze and their family. I definitely recommend this to anyone interested in historical fiction and smart women and this time frame.