Both Green Glass Sea and White Sands, Red Menace are by Ellen Klages, who I had the great pleasure of meeting last year before and at the 4th Street Fantasy Convention (a local recently revived convention focused on writing.)
Now, Ellen is wickedly funny, and had already written my all time favorite library/librarian story ever (” “In the House of the Seven Librarians”, in her anthology Portable Childhoods), but I finally got around to ordering both the YA novels she’s written for the library.
They are set during the development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos (the first book) and in the testing of rockets and further military development (the second one) – but like all of Klages’ stories, the real focus is on the domestic side: what it’s like living in those worlds, and what family, betrayal, sacrifice, and ethics mean in both the little decisions and the big ones.
One reason I wanted to get these in particular is the way they deal with women and science: Dewey (our protagonist) is a creative engineer and scientist. One of the main adult figures in the book is a chemist – and the way her skills and focus are treated (both by children, and by adults, which you see only in casual mentions) are fascinating pictures of the times.
These books read fast, as the language is very appropriate to the viewpoint character (who is in her early teens), but they leave deep thoughts. And they’re definitely