Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TLC Book Tours Book Review - The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

• Paperback: 384 pages

• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 6, 2018)

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Atomic City Girls from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Golden Lines

The flag was dirty and stained; June couldn't help but wonder if some of the dirt was human blood.  It was horrible to look at, a souvenir of battle, of killing - the kind of thing that should be buried with its owner or left where it was found, far away from this American living room. 123

June looked around for a second time to make sure no one had heard.  She stood motionless for a moment.  After wondering for so long what they were working on, she now recoiled from the truth. 161

Inevitably, he wound up at the canteen.  Max wasn't there so he drank by himself, stewing in his own anger, his sense of having been wrongfully accused overwhelming enough that he didn't stop for a moment to consider that she might be right.  211

Later, when trying to understand his reaction, June would think of only one explanation. Already he was thinking past the victory to the consequences of their work. 250

The Army had begun allowing colored families to live together only a month earlier, finally caving in to the demands from the Colored Camp Council. 254

Cici let out a short, loud breath.  "I'd rather die than be touched by that dirty Jew!" 282

"I don't like your tone, boy." 329

The Why?

It blows my mind how much I think I know about American history only to find out there is so much more to learn and so much more I actually don't know.  I'm overwhelmed at times about things I think I know but possibly could be just what I've been taught to know.

First Impressions

When I first began reading, the photographs throughout the book kept me looking ahead for more.  At first, I thought the story was going to be about a young farm girl who loses her fiancee in the war and heals her heart through "men's work" during the war.
Boy, was I wrong.
The Atomic City Girls is so much more.

The Publisher's Summary 

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.

My Perspective

Beard's characters carry her story, particularly Charlie and Ann, Sam and June, Cici and Tom, Joe and Moriah.  You either very quickly like them or you don't...and then you may change your mind depending on how they interact with the other characters within this fabricated city where most of them are happily ignorant of the true reason they are all together in this place.
Happily ignorant.
I think that was the most difficult for me. 
The few who had issues with their real purpose at Oak Ridge, TN were in the minority.
The others succumbed deeply to propaganda that most of us today would scoff at.
Or, at least I hope we would.
The winds of change are beginning to blow in Oak Ridge, however, and Beard addresses those issues from a variety of viewpoints so the reader fully understands the difficulties involved with changing society...difficulties that I believe we take for granted today.

The Google Factor (I'm a nerd)

The Manhattan Project
Department of Energy
Atomic City
Oak Ridge, TN
uranium, electrons, plutonium, separating isotopes
amount of money spent on this and other similar projects
Oak Ridge Woman's Club
African Americans at Oak Ridge, TN
Colored Camp Council
building the atomic bomb
Norris Dam
Women Scientists who worked on the atomic bomb

The Author 

Janet Beard

Find out more about Janet at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, February 6th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, February 7th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, February 8th: Literary Quicksand
Friday, February 9th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, February 12th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, February 13th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, February 14th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, February 15th: Time 2 Read
Tuesday, February 20th: Openly Bookish
Wednesday, February 21st: A Literary Vacation
Thursday, February 22nd: Bibliotica
Monday, February 26th: Literary Lindsey
Tuesday, February 27th: Instagram: @_literary_dreamer_
Wednesday, February 28th: Instagram: @theliterarybirds
Thursday, March 1st: bookchickdi