Book Club Picks: The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II


So I have been trying to catch up with my book club book reviews, and I am almost there. Just three more (including this one) and I am back on track.

Alright!

So every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. We’ve been reading a lot of fiction books, so one of the members decided to choose a non-fiction book they had found at the library.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

During World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; was home to over 75,00 people, used more electricity than New York City, and was shrouded in mystery.

What?

What was happening there? Why was it secret? Not even the workers knew what they were doing or “making”, as no product even seemed to come out.

Help me! I’m confused!

Women from all over the country came fresh out of high school, right out of college, when they had nothing, as a last resort, etc. These women enjoyed making their own money, living on their own, etc.

The book chronicles different women: races, to areas of the country, ages, etc; and gives each one’s story from when they start at Oak Ridge to when they close the city down.

Hmm…

Between the stories of the women there are the classified documents of the government and it shows the other side of the scientists who actually knew what was going on.

It turned out that all these men and women in Oak Ridge were helping build the atomic bomb, although none of them even knew it.

I didn’t really care for this book, and neither did my fellow book club members.

We all loved the parts about the women and their life stories. It was really interesting how they built this community, friendships, were willing to leave everything behind to work at Oak Ridge, etc.

One of the best parts was when one of the workers was dating a military man. She had to wait in line to buy everything, and because there was so many people and only so many supplies, if you didn’t get there early enough then you got nothing.

Her boyfriend used to get her soap and other important toiletries- something she found incredibly romantic as it saved her so much time. I thought it was super romantic as well!

*swoon*

Or the one woman who’s boyfriend kept asking her to marry him, but she would say no as she didn’t want to get married. He stopped asking her, and it upset her, so she told him to ask her one more time. It was really cute.

And there was another story about an African-American woman who used to have the guards bully her when she went to visit her husband (men and women lived in separate areas). One day she ran into some workers getting rid of some extra metal-something that was perfect to be a biscuit tin. After that she would make biscuits for her husband and give some to the guard-winning him over with her excellent cooking.

However, what we didn’t like was all the technical stuff about the atomic bomb. The way it kept switching back and forth was confusing and brought you out of the women’s stories.

That part was really boring as well.

It really brought the book down and I was the only one who was able to power through it.

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: A Wrinkle in Time

For more non-fiction books, go to Book Club Picks: Sandcastle Kings

For more on atomic weapons, go to A Giant Metal Man: The Iron Giant (1995)

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