In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes a riveting novel of the everyday women who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II
“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”
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.
The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard gave a realistic yet deep look into women and their roles during war especially, in 1944. The story told how two women who have goals go about obtaining them. But not all ends up well. June wanted to learn more about their missions and is successful. Her friend Cici wanted a husband and she had for a time but then lost even that. One got what she wanted while the other sort of lost out on hers. But even when Cici’s life ended up a disaster she somehow holds herself up and keeps moving forward. I liked that about her. Then, there was the African American mistreatment that was explored. I felt as though I was transported back in time. The poor group suffered greatly at the hands of the white people. It hurt to watch as Joe lived in fear. He worked to protect his family and keep them safe. I felt overjoyed to see how Joe and his family survive through the tough times in their world. It made this book so much more than just a work of fiction. It combined history and strong themes to make an entertaining yet emotional story. All three main characters were brave, bold, and good people. It showed how they moved forward despite what life brought them. They made lemonade out of lemons. Overall, it was a good read.