The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth Church
Genre: Historical Fiction
BUG Rating: 5/5
Overall: You guys 👀👀👀… I have a new favourite book ever. My friend recommended this one, so I went in knowing it was going to be a good book, but boyyyy… I did not expect to love this SO MUCH.
I loved everything about this book. The writing was just beautiful, with amazing descriptions and scene setting I felt I was there. The characters were all so rich with so many layers to them, which were revealed to us slowly throughout the book. The perfect character development 👌🏻 … and the story … WHAT a story! (No spoilers below)
Set in the 1940s, a time when a woman’s role was that of a traditional housewife. Women weren’t expected to be scientists, weren’t expected to have careers of their own.
Meridian was young, brilliant, intelligent and wanted nothing but to go to college, get a PHD and make a name for herself in the field of ornithology. She was on the right path, set to accomplish her dreams, until she puts those of her husband before her own, following him across country to Los Alamos, where he is working on a top secret scientific government project.
Although told through Meridian, this story of self sacrifice was the story of many other extraordinary women during this time period. Women faced SO many challenges, and this book, although highlights this, and what Meridian loses, was an amazing story of courage, determination and love.
Would I have done the same as Meridian? Despite wanting to say no … I know I probably would have.
I really loved this book. I found the last 100 pages pretty emotional, and the above doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what happens in this book. It has so much more going on, you just must read it for yourself (also check out the author’s note, despite fiction, its apparent this story is one that is very close to Church’s own experience through her mother) – Not enough stars for this one ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
For Meridian Wallace–and many other smart, driven women of the 1940s–being ambitious meant being an outlier. Ever since she was a young girl, Meridian had been obsessed with birds, and she was determined to get her PhD, become an ornithologist, and make her mother’s sacrifices to send her to college pay off. But she didn’t expect to fall in love with her brilliant physics professor, Alden Whetstone. When he’s recruited to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to take part in a mysterious wartime project, she reluctantly defers her own plans and joins him.
What began as an exciting intellectual partnership devolves into a “traditional” marriage. And while the life of a housewife quickly proves stifling, it’s not until years later, when Meridian meets a Vietnam veteran who opens her eyes to how the world is changing, that she realizes just how much she has given up. The repercussions of choosing a different path, though, may be too heavy a burden to bear.