It is 1943 and eleven-year-oldnote Duodecima "Dewey" Marie Kerrigan is on her way to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to meet her father. When she gets there, she learns that Los Alamos doesn't officially exist and that she is not to call anyone "doctor" because people might get suspicious. This is nothing new to her, of course. There have been lots of secrets since the war started, but now there are more than ever, most of them having to do with "The Gadget", a mysterious weapon that the adults are working on and that people say will help them win the war. It's only at the end that Dewey realizes just how big everything is.
This novel has a sequel, White Sands, Red Menace.
Contains contains examples of:
- Blind Without 'Em: Dewey. Becomes a problem when she breaks her glasses in the sequel.
- Cypher Language: With Greek of all things.
- Embarrassing Middle Name
- Embarrassing First Name: Dewey's full name is Duodecima.
- Free-Range Children: All the kids in the story are allowed pretty much free rein. This was the norm for the time, however.
- Huge School Girl: Suze, who is as tall as most of the boys in her class.
- I Just Want to Have Friends
- The Masquerade: Duh.
- Missing Mom: Dewey's mother left when she was a baby; it's not until the sequel that we meet her.
- Numerical Theme Naming: Dewey's birthday is December 12. Twelve-twelve. Her father is obsessed with math. Hence her name (Duodecima), which is the Latin word for twelve.
- Odd Friendship: Dewey and Suze.
- Open Secret: The testing of "The Gadget".
- Only Known by Their Nickname: You would want to be too if your name was Duodecima.
- Pinky Swear
- Present Tense Narrative: A couple of the Dewey eccentric chapters. Is done rather well.
- Secret Weapon: Though not a secret to the reader.
- This Is My Side: Suze towards Dewey while the later is staying with her family because her father has gone to Washington D.C.
- Tomboy: Suze again.