The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: war, war crimes, relationships.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars


I picked up a copy of this novel at a Friend’s of the Library sale, and yet again decided I didn’t have time to read it, so I hunted up an audiobook version instead. What can I say? If I can audiobook it, it has a greater chance of skipping the TBR line, and I can listen to books when I’m running around like a chicken with no head. Anyway, back to the book.

June Walker is a new hire at a top secret military base in the hills of Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1944. She doesn’t know exactly what kind of operation is going on here, but she knows she will be aiding the war effort and living a more exciting life than the one she had in her small home town. She will be a control girl, along with her new roommate Cici. June and Cici spend the time off going to the bowling alley and flirting with the men on campus, though all in good fun.

Then, June meets Dr. Sam Cantor, a scientist that was brought to the base to work on some of the higher levels of the secret military mission. June and Sam are immediately attracted to each other, and though Sam is a little stand-offish in the beginning, they eventually become intimate- physically and emotionally. They build a lot of trust within their relationship when they break the cardinal rule of the base- they discuss the secret the base it keeping. Though both fascinated and torn by the creation of such a weapon, the two share hours together in discussion. But the consequences of such chatter hang over both of their heads… what would happen if someone overheard?

This novel was sort of a middle-of-the-road read for me. Although I enjoyed reading about this aspect of WWII history, and the story overall was a quick, easy read, I grew bored by the end of the novel, and the ending fell flat for me. The love story kept my interest for some of the novel, but I could predict the outcome easily, and for me, none of the characters changed over the course of the novel, which made it hard for me to take a personal interest in them. Because I wasn’t overly enthralled by the book, I kept putting off this review because I just didn’t want to write about another so-so book. Alas, I’m here to share my honest opinion, right? So, personally, I’d pass on this book if you were interested.

Published: February 6, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow

TL/DR: Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard is a WWII historical fiction novel from the perspective of a few of those who helped build the atomic bomb.

Read it? If you enjoy WWII historical novels, feel free to give it a read.

Recommend it? Personally, I would pass because this book fell flat for me.

Buy it? I wouldn’t purchase┬áthis book again. If you’re interested in it, borrow a copy.

If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:

  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • The Light Over London by Julia Kelly
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelley
  • The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Categories: Book Review, Fiction, Historical

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