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White Sands, Red Menace Hardcover – October 2, 2008

18 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Green Glass Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
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From Booklist

Klages’ The Green Glass Sea (2006) won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and in this gripping sequel, set just after World War II, science, mechanics, and politics continue to play a big role in the teen friendship story. Dewey’s atomic-scientist dad has died in a traffic accident, and she has moved in with her friend Suze’s family near Los Alamos. Suze’s dad is driven by his work in the new frantic race to build a rocket (“The first man in space mustn’t be a Russian”), and he fights bitterly with his peacenik wife, Terry, about Hiroshima and the radiation nightmare. There is sometimes too much local detail, but the groundbreaking science is part of daily life for the smart techno-teens, and the adult characters are as compelling as the kids. As Klages said in an interview in the November 2007 issue of Book Links magazine, people are excited about future technology, “and others are afraid that there won’t be a future.” Along with these global issues, Klages’ compelling story explores personal relationships and what it means to be a family. Grades 5-8. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670062359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670062355
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When authors choose historical moments in time to set their stories against, surely the temptation must be to go for the big shiny moments, yes? The Alamo. The sinking of the Titanic. Gigantic wars. Dramatic moments in human history are the natural lure and there's nothing wrong with that. It's natural. So what are we to make of the author that eschews all that for the seemingly less interesting eras? Say, for example, 1946? World War II is over and America hasn't fully bought into McCarthyism quite yet. There aren't any spies or big battles to cover. Instead there's something more insidious. The feel of a nation trying to do what is right, but also getting sucked into the fear and paranoia that will cause countless problems a couple years down the line. To write something this subtle without boring a child audience takes a deft hand, and author Ellen Klages is up to the challenge. Having already established her setting and characters in the Scott O'Dell Award winning book The Green Glass Sea, Klages now turns her sights on the aftermath of WWII in America and the effects of the time period on cultural and personal relations. A little slow to start, once this sequel gets moving there's no stopping it.

It's been eight months since World War II ended. Eight months and in that time Dewey Kerrigan has fitted in nicely with her friend Suze Gordan's family. Now they've moved from Los Alamos to Alamogordo, New Mexico because of Mr. Gordon's current work on the government's rocket program. Things are progressing fairly quickly for the girls as well. They're both still fascinated by mixing Suze's artistic talent with Dewey's scientific bent, but they're also growing up.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Absentminded Professor on May 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an intellectually arrogant, middle-aged white male heterosexual college professor, I don't, as a rule, read "young adult fiction" by lesbian authors from San Francisco, but here I am, not only confessing to reading two in a year, but writing a review on praising them to the skies. Both The Green Glass Sea (Ellen Klages' first book) and White Sands, Red Menace (her second, building on the characters she developed in the first), are extraordinary, simply extraordinary. They are the best books I have ever read on Los Alamos, the Manhattan Project, the dawn of the Atomic Age, and what it felt like being a kid in America in the middle of the last century. They are your assigned reading for the summer, and I will expect your book reports by August 7. You will get extra credit if you send Ellen Klages an email imploring her to get on with her third book immediately. Clearly it must be set in Berkeley, E. O. Lawrence must hover in the background of the plot, and Dewey and Suze's mom will undoubtedly run afoul of the Loyalty Oath.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave F on August 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This was supposed to be for my daughter but I ended up reading it and yes, shedding a tear or two -- or three throughout the read. There are a lot of Dewey's in the world that are a bit withdrawn, nerdy, and, like we all are at times, struggling with life. Dewey, to me, is a very presentable character. She's not Harry Potter. To me, she feels far more real that Harry.
What makes this read so wonderful is the characterizations. We both get an everyday snapshot of life in the late 1940's and we get small moments that are often so rare in books where we see how much everyday life can shape us. It allows us to slowly absorb the characters and their actions.
What also makes this book special is how dark it really is beneath the surface. Discussions of abortion, the atomic bomb, teenage pregnancy, racism, sexism, propaganda and so forth all percolate to the surface without dominating the story. In essence the themes are there but never become the focus of the story.
I think the author's greatest gift is her ability to examine the darkest of themes without ever becoming melodramatic making it a 'disease of the week' drama. I love this book from page one to the end and hope the story of Dewey and Suzie continues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Rocket this. Atomic-powered that. They are all the rage in the United States during the post-War era.

Dewey and Suze have moved with Suze's scientist parents to New Mexico. Phil, Suze's dad, works endlessly on a new project -- a rocket that could eventually land on the moon while Terry, Suze's mom, obsesses over her mission against the Bomb which both she and Phil created.

Dewey and Suze love working on "the wall" in their new bedroom. They tinker, build, and add more and more to the carefully constructed contraptions, even though girls aren't supposed to be interested in things like that. When Dewey's long-lost mother shows up, Dewey struggles to understand the meaning of family.

Take a trip back in time and be fascinated by people and events that created history and helped shape the world as we know it.

Reviewed by: Dianna Geers
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Hudson on August 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's such a pleasure to read a sequel that lives up to and possibly even surpasses the original. White Sands, Red Menace, Ellen Klages's follow up to The Green Glass Sea is a wonderful continuation of Suze Gordon and Dewey Kerrigan's story.

When The Green Glass Sea ends, Dewey's dad has died and the Gordons have taken her in. With World War II over and the atom bomb no longer a secret, they move from Los Alamos to Alamogordo, New Mexico, where Suze's dad is one of the General Electric scientists working with the Army to perfect a rocket that can go into space and carry a nuclear bomb. After seeing the results of their work in Los Alamos, Suze's mom, Terry Gordon, works to let the world know of the dangers of atomic bombs. She's fighting a rising tide of Americans' fascination with all things atomic.

Suze and Dewey are starting all over again at a new school and hoping to fit in better than they did at Los Alamos. They have each other, but they hope to make new friends as well. Klages has done a masterful job of capturing the time period and the small town in New Mexico in which the story takes place. It was a time when kids had a lot of freedom to roam, time on their hands and not a lot of money or electronic attractions. This often meant they had to get creative to kill their boredom.

Dewey's interest and ability in science pairs well with Suze's interest and ability in art. In their attic room, they go to work on a wall that showcases both their talents. The story moves at a leisurely pace that's somewhat like the slow summer days the girls experience at the beginning of the book, and I found myself matching my reading pace to their exploits. I also found myself dreaming of a time that was simpler in many ways and more complicated in others.
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