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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Now a New York Times Bestseller! THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY AT THE HEIGHT OF WORLD WAR II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians--many of them young women from small towns across the South--were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war--when Oak Ridge's secret was revealed. Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it--women who are now in their eighties and nineties-- The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their endurin…

Overall Book Review:

The Girls of Atomic City is a fascinating read. I suspect many readers (myself included) know little to nothing about Oak Ridge, Tennessee, so this well-written novel opened up a whole new world to me. Author Denise Kiernan creates an engaging narrative from the letters and reminiscing of nine young women living and working in Oak Ridge during World War II. The chapters alternate between the firsthand accounts and the more factual information about the science and history behind the atomic bomb itself.

The Girls of Atomic City is a meticulously researched book with a lot of scientific terminology and research. Despite the immense and scholarly subject matter, Kiernan makes the tale both readable and interesting. The book’s photographs and list of characters were an added bonus. I loved reading how these women each had a role in building the world’s first atomic bomb — subsequently ending the war and bringing fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons back home. I highly recommend this book!


Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations, 5 mild obscenities, 1 derogatory name

Violence/Gore:  Several secondhand reports of violence regarding warfare and being smacked at school; a scene of destruction of property with no casualties (the bomb is tested); non-detailed scenes of violent death involve dropping the two atomic bombs on Japan, a tubealloy accident, men shot, radiation poisoning and a train accident. 

Sex/Nudity:  A few sexual references.

Mature Subject Matter:

War, death, racism, moral responsibility, displacement, sacrifice.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Various characters drink and smoke; a page details drinking choices.

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
3
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
3
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
2
10

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.