Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago—and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with a P.O. box for an address in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of a project that didn’t exist as far as the public knew. Though they were strangers, they joined together—adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, full of the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery.~ Goodreads Summary
Look everyone is going to harp on about it so let me just get it out now, this book is written in first person plural. The use of the royal sounding "we" rather than "I" is used through out this book and it does not stop after the first few pages to lapse into a more conventional style of writing. There I said it. Guess what? I loved the style. It gave the group a harmony and a stronger voice. Instead of merely identifying with one woman and then alienating the others you are shown the group as a being. A simple take us or leave us being. I loved it. It has to be said that some may find this type of reading to be too difficult and the multi-voice to tiring to follow. I like a challenge, no one reads Shakespeare because it's easy, or dissects Odysseus because it's fun. We're in it for the thrill of besting the pages. If you can pull your self above the different style then this book is a wonderful fleshed out view of the Manhattan Project written by someone actually born on one of the secret bases.
Everyone wants to know what it was like from the men who actually built the bomb, and while this is fascinating it isn't enough for me, nor should it be for you. I can't look at greatness without thinking about the sacrifices they had to make to get there. How many days did they miss with their families? Did they make every moment count or did they expect them to be waiting for them? Were they a parent or were they simply an adult who lived in the same house? This book showed the struggles and the triumphs of the families of Los Alamos. These women were taken away from their families and their friends and forced to adapt. With military families you are volunteering for this life but in the science community you might not be expecting it. They became military families and yet not quite. They didn't fit the box since their husbands and fathers were civilians so they didn't get all the things that go with it. These are the stories that need to be told. NOT just about great people doing great things but of the families who sacrifice their happiness and their youth for these great people.
This story was a great view into the mind of women who either had to bond or further isolate themselves. Each of them bound by simply not knowing what secret they were protecting. This life was hard and exhausting, that really comes through on the page. Take the time, accept the Plural First and enjoy the crap out of this book. Because of the risk of you giving up after a few chapters, I would say borrow it at your local library or KindleUnlimted it. If you like it buy it, if not then feel free to let me know why.
Freelance Editor & Reviewer