What I’m Reading: The Atomic City Girls

I just finished up the audio book The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard.  I was hunting at Hoopla to find something I might like and this came up…hmm, historical fiction, WWII era, yes please.

I think my big attraction to WWII historical fiction is that this is the time my mom and dad would have been young.  In the book they talk about the announcement that President Roosevelt had passed away.  I end up wondering what my mom and thought.  What were they doing when they found out.  The book talks a lot about dating, going to the movies, roller skating and that type of thing.  I love making connections in the “history” side of the book with my parents.

Here’s what Amazon had to say:
In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.”

Amazon readers give the book 4 stars.  I’d give the book only 3.8 stars.  There really was no plot to the book.  There was no climax…it was just life being told.  I didn’t feel connected to the characters.  It’s sad, I think it had the potential to be a really good book.

5 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: The Atomic City Girls”

  1. If you like WWII books, both books by Kate Quinn are wonderful. I just finished reading The Huntress, and the first book of hers I read was The Alice Network.

  2. Maxine Corimski

    Jo, you might want to read a book by Kate Moore entitled, “Radium Girls”. It is a true story about the young girls who worked in a factory applying radium to Westclox clocks faces and the disks that eventually go into the Air Force’s navigation dials in the airplanes. It’s a sad book as it explains how the government hid the dangers of radium on the human body from the workers. Much like they hid the dangers of nicotine. If you like true stories this one would be for you. It is “heavy” reading but enlightening. I learned facts that I didn’t know.

  3. I recently read THE CODE GIRLS about how the Army and Navy recruited women to work in Washington DC decoding messages. My mother was a WAVE in WWII but I never knew what she did. This book had pics of WAVES in Washington DC and I now know that my mother likely was there. That is where she worked. And they talked about places that I know she was at. It was good educational read. I have difficulty reading books that don’t grab me. And fluffy romance novels. The Parisians by Mario Gabriel. He writes historical novels, some based on Paris. The Designers and this one both in Paris. He uses actual events and people woven into the mix. Some of his books I can’t put down, some not so much. Enjoy the next read.

  4. A couple of years ago I read “Blackout” and “All Clear” by Connie Willis. The books are about historians who travel back in time to WWII London to experience the Blitz. I really enjoyed them.

  5. Carolyn Sullivan

    I agree w you there was NO PLOT. I read it bc my kids father and grandparents were raised there. It is an amazing thing to see what happened to the plywood (basically) housing. Now they are moved to around the lake. Many of the forest trails were originally escape routes incase of bombing. My FIL’s Mother worked there in the kitchens, she moved there w/o him bc he didn’t want to go. His dad her husband was abusive we learned over the years and she escaped to there w her daughter, and another son. (as he wouldn’t go) Later when he got done (my FIL) dealing w the drinking and driving his dad from bar to bar (age12) he went to Chicago where his mom’s mail was being sent, and was then put on a bus secretly to OakRidge. She had to come identify him at the gate. Security was VERY tight.
    This would have made a better true story plot. MIL, has dementia, can’t talk about it anymore and all the other people are deceased now. Still my kids know the story.

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