A few years ago I read a book, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. It was a non-fiction account of women who moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to work (unknowingly) on the Manhattan Project. I found that book absolutely fascinating.
The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard has just been published at it is also fascinating. This novel follows a group of people who are living and working in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
June is just eighteen years old, her soldier fiance died in France and she has come to Oak Ridge for a fresh start. Her roommate Cici is a young woman who has plans to use the time in Tennessee to find herself a wealthy husband and leave behind the poverty she grew up in.
Sam is a physicist from New York. The knowledge he has of the bomb that he is working on brings him a lot of inner turmoil and he often turns to alcohol to relieve the stress of what he knows is coming.
Joe Brewer is an African American man who has left his family behind while he works in Oak Ridge, earning more money there than he could at home. Blacks are definitely treated differently than whites, but Joe minds his own business as he tries to earn money for his growing family.
I loved the stories of all of these people. I loved that there were photographs interspersed in this book of what life was like in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during this period in history. I loved hearing the different perspectives in this book and seeing the events unfold through the eyes of the different characters. Beard does create a little drama in this story as she intertwines June and Joe's stories, but much of the novel is just a fascinating look at what life was like in this new city that was being built overnight (almost literally).
Although I really enjoyed Denise Kiernan's non-fiction book The Girls of Atomic City, I can recall next to nothing about it. That's one of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction so much. I know this story will stick with me for a long time, and years from now I will still be able to recall bits and pieces of it.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for my review.
All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.
Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
Hidden Figures by Margot Shetterly
The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
Visit the HarperCollins website for more information about this title