The year is 1943, and eleven-year-old Dewey Kerrigan is on a train to a remote location in New Mexico. There, her father is working with the world's top scientists to build a mysterious weapon that Dewey knows only as "the gadget."Meanwhile, Suze Gordon, a young but talented artist, struggles to find her place among the other girls at Los Alamos, the complex where both she and Dewey are to live.
When Dewey's father leaves on a business trip and she must move in with Suze's family for the time being, neither girl is happy about the arrangement. The other girls dislike Dewey, and Suze wonders what they will think of her when they learn the two are sharing a room. Dewey considers Suze one of her tormentors, and hopes her father returns as soon as possible. But when tragedy strikes and Dewey is stuck at their house for the rest of the war, it seems the two will have to get along. Meanwhile, no one suspects just how much "the gadget" is going to change their lives forever.
This was a quick and enjoyable historical fiction novel. Suze and Dewey's reluctant and sometimes turbulent friendship was realistic, and the characters' emotions were powerful. The two protagonists were easy to relate to, and they could easily have been eleven-year-old girls living in today's society. In my opinion, this was a novel about friendship and coming-of-age as much as it was about history.