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100 Pages A Day...Stephanie's Book Reviews

I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way.  I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.

The Atomic City Girls

The Atomic City Girls: A Novel - Janet Beard

During WWII, a small farming town in Tennessee was quietly demolished and a government facility popped up nearly overnight.  The facility at Oak Ridge hired many young woman to spin dial and push levers, but none of the young women knew what they were working on, only that they received decent pay and housing.  Among the young women were scientists, military and families all living and working under tight security and keeping secrets.  Many people working there didn't know what they were working on or the consequences.  One of the women working at Oak Ridge is eighteen year old June, a local girl whose grandfather once lived where Oak Ridge now sits.  June and her roommate Cici quickly become acclimated to the strange life at Oak Ridge.  Cici's goal while at Oak Ridge is simple to strip away her penniless background and emerge as a well-bred young woman who can catch the eye of an affluent man.  June, on the other hand would like to move on from the death of her fiance, Ronnie and enjoy life again.  June may find the answer in physicist, Dr. Samuel Cantor.  However, as their relationship grows, Sam shares the secrets of what exactly everyone at Oak Ridge is working on and the mental toll of what they are doing begins to trouble Sam more and more.

This is a fictionalized account of the historic town of Oak Ridge that captures a small piece of several employee's stories.  The Atomic City Girls is a lighter story than the non-fiction  The Girls of Atomic City; however, it is still just as important in the sense that it brings to light the important work that was done during the war by a variety of people.   Throughout the book, we follow the stories of June, Cici, Samuel and Joe.  So, I did find the title a little bit of a misnomer, although, all of their stories are important. One aspect that is very well highlighted are the stories of Ralph, Joe and Shirley, the African-American workers at Oak Ridge.  While working, they were segregated and discriminated against and worked towards as well as gained some equal rights while at Oak Ridge.  June's story was the most compelling to me as we learned about the tight security and how the young women were trained as well as the diverse social life offered at Oak Ridge.  Sam's point of view offered a look at the mental struggle of the people who knew exactly what they were building and what it would accomplish.  The story was accompanied by actual photos of Oak Ridge, which helped to beef up the historical aspects, however I do wish there was just a little more history in my historical fiction. 

This book was received in exchange for an honest review.