Books I am reading

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wives of the Bomb

I received a review copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for publishing a review. I have no connection to the publisher or the author. This is my true perspective.

The Wives of Los Alamos: A Novel by TaraShea Nesbit

This is not so much a novel as it is a catalogue about the experiences and feelings and perspectives of the wives of the scientists that lived in secret isolation while they built the atomic bomb. I have a small personal interest since the pastor of my church in the early 70's was a graduate student who worked on this project. His PhD thesis was so highly classified that his review committee was not permitted to read it, and therefore, he never received his PhD.
The information is interesting, enlightening, and part of our national story that needs to be preserved. This book was not my cup of tea because it wasn't a narrative. It told a story in what felt like a fairly impersonal, at times choppy, manner. I would have preferred a more traditional novel. I am interested in character development more than a list of facts and feelings. Some are calling this book ground-breaking, and the use of the "collective we" perspective innovating. So I want to emphasize that my disappointment is not echoed by all previewers.
I kept thinking about how I would have felt if I had been in the wives' shoes. I love the southwest, but I have visited for 20 years before buying our retirement home in AZ. If I were in my mid-20's, with small children, and no friends or family near me, I would have found that very painful. Add the secrecy and the deprivation living conditions, I am sure I would have struggled to remain loyal to the project or my husband. No matter what your perspective on the creation of the atomic bomb, the sacrifices made by the scientists and families was strenuous and deserves attention.