The Atomic City Girls

The Atomic City Girls

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....

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Title:The Atomic City Girls
Author:Janet Beard
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Atomic City Girls Reviews

  • Cathy Daniel

    Finished in one day! And it was a busy day too. That's how amazing this book was. So interesting and I was fully invested in the characters. Loved the real pictures throughout the book, loved the epilogue. I enjoyed the different characters and their stories. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ this will be one of my favorites of 2018!

    Finished in one day! And it was a busy day too. That's how amazing this book was. So interesting and I was fully invested in the characters. Loved the real pictures throughout the book, loved the epilogue. I enjoyed the different characters and their stories. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ this will be one of my favorites of 2018!

  • Angela M

    3.5 stars rounded up.

    The title of this novel is a misnomer in some ways. It’s not just about the the women who worked for the Manhattan Project, called for purposes of security Clinton Engineering Works, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in the 1940’s. It was about men as well, about what the everyday life was like at this place where they live and work on something secretive , a question of national security, they are told. Of course, there are people here who know exactly what is happening here and they

    3.5 stars rounded up.

    The title of this novel is a misnomer in some ways. It’s not just about the the women who worked for the Manhattan Project, called for purposes of security Clinton Engineering Works, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in the 1940’s. It was about men as well, about what the everyday life was like at this place where they live and work on something secretive , a question of national security, they are told. Of course, there are people here who know exactly what is happening here and they are instructed that they must not discuss their work with anyone, never say the word “bomb”, but of course, they do.

    The book follows in alternating chapters four people who are employed here and their individual stories as well as how their lives intersect to form the narrative of the story. In 1944, eighteen year old June, brought up on a farm not far from Oak Ridge takes a job there. She is naive and unaware of what her job her job watching dials and adjusting meters really is all about. That is until she begins a relationship with Sam Cantor, a physicist, a Jew, whose relatives in Germany have been impacted by the war in unimaginable ways. Sam was the most interesting character for me, fighting his personal demons and ambivalence over his work, providing the thought provoking questions about the merits of the atom bomb. Joe, a black laborer takes a job here, leaving his wife and three children behind in order to support them. His story and that of the younger Ralph, illustrate the inequities, the racism that black people were subjected to here as well as in the larger society. Cici, June’s roommate is a shallow, self centered girl whose main reason for being there is to look for a man with money, tries to reinvent herself from the sharecropper’s daughter she grew up as. Way too much time was spent on Cici’s dating life . How these four people connect is how we learn about the day to day life in Oak Ridge.

    This has a realistic feel to it with black and white photographs interspersed throughout. I was disappointed that the advance copy I read did not include the listed “P.S. Insights, Interviews & More “ which I had hoped would shed some light on the research process. I assume the final published version of the book will include these. A realistic feel, but I want to know more about how real the depiction is so I’m going to read the non fiction book, with a strikingly almost identical title The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II. By the way , the Epilogue is fantastic.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from William Morrow/HarperCollins through Edelweiss.

  • Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    For eighteen-year-old June Walker, the prospect of working at Oak Ridge is a chance to get away from home. She has no idea what she is actually doing at Oak Ridge other than she's helping the war effort. As she starts an affair with a Jewish physicist, Sam Carter, she starts to realize more and more what they are doing there. At the same time, her roommate Cici is trying her hardest to find a rich man and get away from her past life. African- American construction worker Joe Brewer has left his

    For eighteen-year-old June Walker, the prospect of working at Oak Ridge is a chance to get away from home. She has no idea what she is actually doing at Oak Ridge other than she's helping the war effort. As she starts an affair with a Jewish physicist, Sam Carter, she starts to realize more and more what they are doing there. At the same time, her roommate Cici is trying her hardest to find a rich man and get away from her past life. African- American construction worker Joe Brewer has left his family behind since the job at Oak Ridge pays well, but being away from his family is hard for him. All these people have their own dreams and goals, but life isn't always easy and things can change in a moment.

  • Sherri Thacker

    I really enjoyed this fictional book about how the atomic bomb was made and how secretive the whole thing was. The whole time I read it I felt like I was back in the 40’s and there are little black and white pictures throughout. Beautifully written and I really enjoyed the chapters as well. It’s not my normal genre of books but I’m so glad I read this one.

  • Deb

    Since historical fiction, particularly when it is set in the World War II era, is a favorite of mine I was excited to sign up this book tour. I like historical fiction that gives me a unique perspective of the war and I found the setting of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a small town built by the government in order to do research and produce materials and components in order to beat Germany in building an atomic weapon, fascinating. Los Alamos, New Mexico is most well known for The Manhatten Project and

    Since historical fiction, particularly when it is set in the World War II era, is a favorite of mine I was excited to sign up this book tour. I like historical fiction that gives me a unique perspective of the war and I found the setting of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a small town built by the government in order to do research and produce materials and components in order to beat Germany in building an atomic weapon, fascinating. Los Alamos, New Mexico is most well known for The Manhatten Project and I confess to being unaware of the happenings in Oak Ridge. Equally unaware are the main character of the book, June Walker, and the other hundreds of young women like her who have come to Oak Ridge for the high-paying jobs operating machines that they don't know anything about. They sit for hours every day or night (depending on their shifts) in a booth while watching and monitoring the dials of a machine, but not being able to ask questions about their work or tell anyone what they are doing.

    In addition to June, the story unfolds from the perspective of three other characters, June's roommate Cici--another machine operator like June, African-American, Joe Brewer--who leaves his wife and young children to do construction work in Oak Ridge, along with his friend, the troubled Ralph, and finally Sam Cantor--a Jewish scientist who is the only one of the four characters who knows what the purpose of Oak Ridge really is. June becomes involved with Sam and gradually learns what is happening. June is a young eighteen, naive but eager to learn and very likable. Joe is another character I rooted for--wincing every time the bigotry and discrimination of the times reared its ugly head in the story. Sam is complicated--I wanted to like him and at times I did, and then there is Cici, solely out for herself in every thought and action.

    I was immediately caught up in the story of The Atomic City Girls and the book's close to 400 pages flew by. It is clear that Janet Beard did her research for the book and writes in a way that makes dusty, bustling Oak Ridge and the characters living there come to life. I found myself invested in these characters, wanting to know what would happen to them, especially June and Joe. I did want a bit more from the ending because after a lot of detail and build up, things actually wrap up rather quickly--although there is an epilogue that talks about what happens with the four main characters that I appreciated. The Atomic City Girls illuminated a piece of American history that I wasn't aware of and it had me googling Oak Ridge and its role in The Manhattan Project for more information. I was sorry to have the story end and recommend it especially for fans of World War II historical fiction.

    You can see my review plus a recipe inspired by the book on my blog post here:

    Note: A review copy of "The Atomic City Girls" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Zoe

    Atmospheric, authentic, and immersive!

    The Atomic City Girls is a fascinating story that sweeps you away to Oak Ridge, Tennessee during the mid-1940s when WWII was raging on the battlefields of Europe, and back home the American government was funding a top-secret project that would triumphantly and tragically have a resounding effect on the entire world for years to come.

    The prose is captivating and vividly described. The four main characters June, Sam, Cici, and Joe are unique, hardworking, and

    Atmospheric, authentic, and immersive!

    The Atomic City Girls is a fascinating story that sweeps you away to Oak Ridge, Tennessee during the mid-1940s when WWII was raging on the battlefields of Europe, and back home the American government was funding a top-secret project that would triumphantly and tragically have a resounding effect on the entire world for years to come.

    The prose is captivating and vividly described. The four main characters June, Sam, Cici, and Joe are unique, hardworking, and patriotic. And the plot, interspersed with real-life photos, is a compelling story about life, love, friendship, self-discovery, segregation, survival, tragedy, war, romance, uranium enrichment, nuclear weapons, and morality.

    Overall, The Atomic City Girls is a well-written, exceptionally researched novel that does a remarkable job of highlighting Beard’s incredible knowledge into a period and historical event that is often forgotten or overlooked.

    Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

    All my reviews can be found on my blog at

  • Onceinabluemoon

    I am an avid library abuser, last night I was number one for nine new releases, never one who wants to hold up the queue I can't wait to dive into the new stuff, loving historical fiction I grabbed this audio book first, after all I was number 29 in line for the kindle version, why wait! Bright and early I had my ears on and out to the garden I went... hmmm, it wasn't grabbing me, oh give it time, the meat of the story is just around the corner... I looked to see I was at 19% and still I was wai

    I am an avid library abuser, last night I was number one for nine new releases, never one who wants to hold up the queue I can't wait to dive into the new stuff, loving historical fiction I grabbed this audio book first, after all I was number 29 in line for the kindle version, why wait! Bright and early I had my ears on and out to the garden I went... hmmm, it wasn't grabbing me, oh give it time, the meat of the story is just around the corner... I looked to see I was at 19% and still I was waiting. At 60% I returned the audio and washed my hands of it. It felt like nothing but chic lit, I wanted substance, not straw sucking women seeking spouses, I wanted to LEARN. Just not for me, I love non fiction and historical fiction done well, but this was just pure fluff and I found myself angry to be wasting my time on something I didn't like when I have eight more new releases in the wings, something is bound to resonate more to my liking!

  • Sarah

    20/4 - This was only so-so. I think that whoever included the uncaptioned photos made a mistake because in quite a few of them it was unclear what we were looking at (kind of like looking at a now deceased relative's old photos and trying to work out where they were taken and who the people in them are without the relative's input).

    Of the four main characters only one was sympathetic, but even then I didn't really enjoy reading his chapters because he was a black man working in a very white worl

    20/4 - This was only so-so. I think that whoever included the uncaptioned photos made a mistake because in quite a few of them it was unclear what we were looking at (kind of like looking at a now deceased relative's old photos and trying to work out where they were taken and who the people in them are without the relative's input).

    Of the four main characters only one was sympathetic, but even then I didn't really enjoy reading his chapters because he was a black man working in a very white world and his story made me angry and/or depressed. It was a trial of my patience to read Cici's chapters because of her single-minded desire to climb the social ladder because where she came from wasn't good enough and I was very glad when she disappeared for most of the middle and end of the book, but Sam the drunk and June the boring weren't much better. Reading back on what I've written so far you might be wondering why I've given it two stars, instead of one. The writing was fine and there were no editing errors that I could see (high praise that is) and I try to save my one stars for books that hit the trifecta of bad - writing, plot and characters.

    I think I would have been better off reading a non-fiction on this topic, because my favourite part of the book was at the beginning when Beard was going into more detail about Oak Ridge and what work the women were unknowingly doing there. If there isn't a non-fiction book on the topic I think I'll see what trusty Wikipedia has to offer.

  • The Library Lady

    Clearly neither the author nor her editors have read

    , a non-fiction version of the story here that reads like a novel itself.

    If they had, they wouldn't have published this cardboard character filled version of history.

    And if you've already spent time reading this, (and if you haven't, don't waste your time on it), read that one. The true women (and men) of Oak Ridge have an astonishing story to tell, and the aut

    Clearly neither the author nor her editors have read

    , a non-fiction version of the story here that reads like a novel itself.

    If they had, they wouldn't have published this cardboard character filled version of history.

    And if you've already spent time reading this, (and if you haven't, don't waste your time on it), read that one. The true women (and men) of Oak Ridge have an astonishing story to tell, and the author of that book told it beautifully.

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