Where the Ground Meets the Sky

by Jacqueline Davies

First-time novelist Jacqueline Davies has written a work of fiction set in Los Alamos,... read more

First-time novelist Jacqueline Davies has written a work of fiction set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, at the time the nuclear bomb was being developed. Twelve-year-old Hazel moves to the nameless community called “The Hill” with her parents in 1944. Her dad is joining the dozens of scientists at work on the secret government project in the laboratory there—a project that could bring the war to an end. Hazel sees her family’s move as the opportunity to reinvent herself. She’s always been the smart one in her school back east, and not very popular because of it. Now, she’s determined to be nothing but normal. Her first day on The Hill, she meets Eleanor, and the two establish an immediate friendship. Soon Hazel is caught up in the routine of school and play in the burgeoning, thrown-together town. Like other children at Los Alamos, she has learned not to ask about the work at the lab. But even though Hazel doesn’t know what her dad is working on, she can tell by the conversations she overhears that it’s important—and controversial. Inspired after reading oral histories of adults who were living as children in Los Alamos during World War II, author Davies has woven a an engaging story based on factual events and embellished by her imagination. If she has occasionally pushed the limits of imaginative license (it is questionable whether Hazel and her mother would have really been able to sneak off The Hill and witness the first test of the nuclear bomb from a distance, or that Hazel would have eventually been able to figure out what the work at the lab was all about), and not given other issues their full due (racism and classism on The Hill were much more prevalent that suggested here) she has nonetheless created a compelling work of fiction that invites discussion of larger ethical issues. (Ages 11-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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