Growing up in Los Alamos during WWII, Los Alamos Light, by Larry Bograd. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Inc. 168 pp. $11.95. Ages 11 and up.
Author Larry Bograd brings out important questions for young readers to explore in this book set in New Mexico during World War II. He presents such issues as man's relationship with nature and the implications of technological advancement for society. But Bograd doesn't moralize, and the reader is left to reach his or her own conclusions.
Los Alamos is the isolated town where top scientists came together to develop the first atomic bomb. Sixteen-year-old Maggie, the daughter of one of these scientists, tells her own story. It begins when she is wrenched from Boston, with its urban advantages, to live in the sparsely populated Southwest.
Tension soon develops between Maggie's growing love for the arid land, with its traditional cultures, and the approaching atomic age, which originates with the nuclear fission research in Los Alamos. Her Pueblo pottery teacher tells her: ''Our duty is to earth and clay. We are here to make pots, not to talk of death. Our hope lies with the earth and clay.'' To Maggie, this idea seems right.
However, after witnessing a tremendous atomic explosion from a distance, (the Trinity test), she realizes that great techno-military advancement is unavoidable. She also begins to see that a reconciliation between society's relationship to nature and technology must take place, if peace is to endure. Maggie's decision to go to a college in the Southwest instead of in the East indicates her changing views.