Book Spotlight: THE ATOMIC CITY GIRLS by Janet Beard

Janelle Book Mail, Finished Copy, From Publisher, Historical Fiction, William Morrow Leave a Comment

Thank you so much to William Morrow for this beautiful copy! This looks incredible!

The critically acclaimed novel THE ATOMIC CITY GIRLS has been universally hailed in early reviews… But it’s narrative about some of the first American Women to enter the Workplace, Racial Equality and the building of the Atomic Bomb is what makes it a truly of-the-moment must read.

In a moment seemingly ripped from today’s headlines, in 1940’s Oak Ridge, Tennessee young protagonist June Walker has the following “Time’s Up” moment in her boss’s office, in defense of herself and her African-American co-worker, Joe Brewer:

“Mr. Milton lit a cigarette and blew out a plume of smoke in June’s direction.  She decided that she hated him.  He leaned back in his chair…June’s increasing antipathy toward Mr. Milton was building up her courage.  She felt less afraid and more angry—angry at the way he was badgering and condescending to Joe.  Angry that he wouldn’t let the poor man sit down and was blowing smoke in her face…she was beginning to feel reckless…”Stop!” said June, and without meaning to, she realized that she was also standing now.  “I’ll tell you what I said, Mr. Milton.  I said, ‘I understand what this bomb means,’ all right?  Now leave him alone!”   — The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard


“Beard has taken a project of momentous impact and injected a human element into it. The workers at Oak Ridge struggle with emotional issues, like love and jealousy, as well as societal ones, like segregation and the moral dilemma of creating a bomb made for wide-scale destruction. This is approachable, intelligent, and highly satisfying historical fiction.”  Booklist, *Starred Review

“Fans of historical fiction will devour this complex and human look at the people involved in the creation of the atomic bomb. A fascinating look at an under explored chapter of American history.”   Kirkus

“[…] focuses on the little-known realities behind the Manhattan Project […] Readers who enjoyed Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls will appreciate this glimpse into the beliefs and attitudes that shaped America during World War II.”  Library Journal

“Beard’s satisfying second novel (after Beneath the Pines) gives a human dimension to the lesser-known true-life events that took place in Oak Ridge, Tenn., during World War II…[this] fascinating narrative brings to life four people with different outlooks and dreams whose fates memorably intertwine.”   Publishers Weekly

About the Book: 

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.

Click here to purchase on Amazon. 

Janet Beard: 










February 6          Two Dollar Radio, Columbus, OH Launch Event

February 13       Parnassus Books, Nashville TN – Reading & Signing

February 14       Union Ave Books, Knoxville TN – Reading & Signing

Feb 15                 Museum of Science & Energy, Oak Ridge, TN – Reading and Signing 

March 3              Southwest Florida Reading Festival, Fort Meyer, FL

April 5                 TLA Dallas, TX Speaking Event, 6:00PM – 9:30 PM

May 15               Thurber House, Columbus, OH  Reading and Signing 










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