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“Dewey nodded. They were going to test the gadget. It was an open secret. No one was supposed to know anything, officially, but in private, it was all anyone had talked about for weeks,” Dewey. —The Green Glass Sea

The Green Glass Sea

The Gordon Family Saga #1

by Ellen Klages
AR Test, Must Read

At A Glance
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Young Dewey Kerrigan and Suze Gordon live in a time ravaged by World War II. When their families are moved to a secret location in the New Mexican desert called Los Alamos, the girls’ lives become filled with military personnel and top-secret information. Their parents are the nation’s finest scientists and have been enlisted to build a powerful weapon to end the war. However, with their parents on this mission, the girls are left with many questions and choices about the war, their families, and their futures. 

Dewey’s and Suze’s worlds collide when Dewey’s father goes on an important business trip and leaves Dewey in the hands of the Gordon family. Although Suze’s parents are friendly and hospitable, there’s one massive problem: Suze and Dewey are very different people and don’t like each other. As the war grows more dire and tragedy strikes the Gordon family, problems erupt between the girls that could jeopardize their present and future lives. Can Suze and Dewey settle their differences in time? 

The Green Glass Sea features two main protagonists — Dewey Kerrigan and Suze Gordon. Each chapter alternates between the two girls’ points of view which showcases their drastically different voices and personalities. For example, Dewey prefers to work on her gadgets and gizmos in solitude. On the other hand, Suze enjoys her social network and creates beautiful collages filled with old, discarded objects. The girls’ differing personalities keep each of their chapters fresh and exciting. Their realistic views and worries about the war, their family, and the future ground them as authentic, enjoyable characters. While most readers may find it difficult to relate to these girls’ experiences, they can admire the girls’ motivation, strength, and optimism during this tough period. 

Dewey and Suze are surrounded by a wonderful cast of supporting characters who emphasize the story’s lesson about family and loving one another. Dewey and Suze learn to love each other’s differences, and Dewey finds a home with the Gordons when Suze explains, “You’re coming too . . . Daddy said the whole family’s going.” Alongside this heartwarming plot and engaging characters, the story also features a realistic portrayal of history, matching the story’s scenes with the real-life events of World War II. 

The Green Glass Sea addresses the difficulty of World War II and includes sensitive topics like the Nazis, concentration camps, and the ethical usage of the atomic bomb. This information may be hard to digest for certain readers, but it only makes up a small portion of the story. Overall, The Green Glass Sea is a moving story about two girls’ worlds colliding because of World War II. With the combination of exciting characters and historical events, this book is a must-read for history buffs who appreciate the impacts that big-scale events have on normal people. Readers who want to learn more about World War II should also read Survival Tails: World War II by Katrina Charman and Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood. 

Sexual Content 

  • Suze and Dewey sing a song about the war, where they sing, “Hitler has only got one ball. Goering has two but they are small. Himmler has something sim’lar, but poor old Goebbels has no balls at all! 


  • Suze escapes some military police (MPs) while taking a shortcut through a restricted area.  As she climbs over a fence, she scrapes her knee, causing “a little rivulet of blood [to trickle] slowly down her dirt-covered leg . . . ” This scene is described over two pages. 
  • Suze bullies Dewey by drawing “a straight yellow line down the middle” of their room and saying, “You and your stuff stay on your side. Got it?” 
  • When Suze and Dewey go to school. Suze says, “You better not walk with me,” and, “Don’t even think about eating lunch with me.” 
  • While at school, Suze purposely hits the edge of Dewey’s radio “sending it flying,” which causes “a loud crack and a clatter like hailstones as its lid popped open and its contents scattered.” 
  • Suze and Dewey encounter a mean girl, Joyce. After Joyce insults Dewey and her, Suze “took a step forward, grabbed Joyce by the knot of her yellow Girl Scout neckerchief, and pushed her away. Hard.” Joyce lands in a muddy puddle. 
  • Dewey’s father, Jimmy Kerrigan, dies in a car accident. The accident isn’t described.   
  • Dewey angrily smashes a record that reminds her of her father’s death. Dewey “lifts the record off the turntable with both hands and smashes it with all her strength across her upraised knee.” 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • While on a train, Dewey sees people “smoking cigarettes and drinking cocktails and talking very loud.” 
  • Dewey keeps her home-built radio inside a “wooden cigar box.” 
  • Throughout the story, Suze’s mom repeatedly smokes cigarettes in the house.  
  • Suze’s father regularly drinks beer and whiskey during and after work. While at home, “he reached up and opened the cupboard, putting two glasses and the bottle of whiskey on the counter.” 
  • Suze’s dad, Phillip, also regularly smokes his pipe. As he smokes, “the smoke blew over her head, smelling like sweetish-sour burning leaves.” 
  • Dewey’s dad, Jimmy, offers Suze’s mother, Terry, “an inch of brown liquid.” Terry exclaims, “It’s Bushmills [whiskey]. How heavenly.” 
  • Jimmy gets drunk after a couple of drinks at an after-work party. He didn’t realize that “the boys were just dumping liquor bottles willy-nilly into the bowl.” 
  • Jimmy once pulled out “a pack of Camels, and lit one.” 
  • After they had completed their gadget, many scientists “held whiskey bottles” in celebration. 


  • Mrs. Kovack, Dewey’s neighbor, yells, “For the love of Pete, will you just come inside?” 
  • The book references the black community as “negros.”   
  • Dewey’s friend, Jack, uses the word “bitch” to describe the fighting and atrocities of World War II. 
  • Throughout the story, the kids repeatedly call Dewey, “Screwy Dewey.” 
  • Suze’s mother says both “damned” and “goddamn” once. 
  • Suze’s father says “goddamn” and “oh, Jesus” once.  
  •  “Oh god” and “My god” are both used as an exclamation once. 
  • Throughout the story, kids call Suze “Truck” because she’s a “big fat pushy steamroller truck.” 
  • Suze once utters that something is “a bunch of bushwa.” 
  • Suze and Dewey repeatedly use the acronym “FUBAR,” which means “fucked up beyond all recognition.” 
  • “Hell,” “crissakes,” and “jeez Louise” are all used once. 


  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • Mrs. Kovack does “her good Christian duty by taking Dewey in.” 
  • Suze mentions that her family celebrates Hanukkah. 
  • Dewey’s father once exclaims that he hopes “to god the war doesn’t go on longer. . . ”
Other books by Ellen Klages
Other books you may enjoy

“Dewey nodded. They were going to test the gadget. It was an open secret. No one was supposed to know anything, officially, but in private, it was all anyone had talked about for weeks,” Dewey. —The Green Glass Sea

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