HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Atomic Weight of Love

by Elizabeth J. Church

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4244749,561 (3.88)45
In her sweeping debut novel, Elizabeth J. Church takes us from the World War II years in Chicago to the vast sun-parched canyons of New Mexico in the 1970s as we follow the journey of a driven, spirited young woman, Meridian Wallace, whose scientific ambitions are subverted by the expectations of her era. In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly. Entranced and in love, Meridian defers her own career path and follows Alden west to Los Alamos, where he is engaged in a secret government project (later known to be the atomic bomb). In married life, though, she feels lost and left behind. She channels her academic ambitions into studying a particular family of crows, whose free life and companionship are the very things that seem beyond her reach. There in her canyons, years later at the dawn of the 1970s, with counterculture youth filling the streets and protests against the war rupturing college campuses across the country, Meridian meets Clay, a young geologist and veteran of the Vietnam War, and together they seek ways to mend what the world has broken. Exquisitely capturing the claustrophobic eras of 1940s and 1950s America, The Atomic Weight of Love also examines the changing roles of women during the decades that followed. And in Meridian Wallace we find an unforgettable heroine whose metamorphosis shows how the women's movement opened up the world for a whole generation.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 45 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
One of the best books I have read in ages. ( )
  wincheryl | Jun 20, 2022 |
the Atomic Weight of Love, by Elizabeth J. Church (pp 333). CAVEAT: I rarely read fiction, and cannot remember the last time I read a current novel. That said, this is a stunningly well-written book, Ms Church’s debut novel. It’s a story that to some extent parallels the author’s life growing up in Los Alamos, NM, bringing back my own memories of Tesuque, Otowi, Santa Fe, Pojoaque, Bandelier, sopapillas, chile rellenos, Black Mesa, Jemez, and so much more. Church has written a moving tale of a brilliant young woman coming of age in the 1930s before marrying an equally intelligent man, a scientist, and settling in post-wartime Los Alamos. It is a tale as relevant today as anything I read in the news. Her story is about love, fulfillment, marriage, devastation, family, desire, growth, freedom, and change, and is written in a remarkably moving way. I absolutely loved it!!!!!!! ( )
  wildh2o | Jul 10, 2021 |
Bookclub February 2021 ( )
  lexiej | Jun 28, 2021 |
  joyblue | Apr 16, 2021 |
Actual rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I loved that this book spent most of its pages in Los Alamos, post-World War 2, a setting and time period I rarely see in fiction narratives. I thought the corvid study information was well done and interesting.

But I didn't really like any of the characters, the romantic angles left me feeling frustrated, and I wish there was more nuance in the depiction of scientists overall. I don't think it helped that the most prominent scientist character - the MC's husband - embodied a lot of the worst stereotypes about scientists. Also, holy shit, every time a fat character is described or talked to, the fatphobia in the narrative just JUMPS OUT. Let fat people live without constantly commenting on their bodies, book!

But the book itself was well written on a craft level, and it's very obvious from the descriptions of the New Mexican landscapes and local life that the author is a LA native.

In the end, I am left conflicted and frustrated with how the story wound up, but intrigued as to whatever else this author has to say. ( )
  sarahlh | Mar 6, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
How have all those exquisite adaptations of one part of the organisation to another part, and to the conditions of life, and of one distinct organic being to another being, been perfected?
—Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species

Los Alamos is in a restricted airspace reservation covered by an Executive order, dated May 23, 1950. This airspace cannot be penetrated except by authority of the AEC [Atomic Energy Commission]. Historically permission has been refused except for the chartered [AEC flights of official visitors and project personnel].
—from the report of the Hearing before the Subcommittee on Communities of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Congress of the United States, Eighty-Sixth Congress, First Session on Community Problems of Los Alamos, December 2, 1959
Dedication
To Frances Salman Koenig,
this novel's strongest champion,
and
To my brother Alan A. Church,
for his steadfastness
First words
In early January of 2011, forty-five hundred red-winged blackbirds fell dead from the Arkansas skies.
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

In her sweeping debut novel, Elizabeth J. Church takes us from the World War II years in Chicago to the vast sun-parched canyons of New Mexico in the 1970s as we follow the journey of a driven, spirited young woman, Meridian Wallace, whose scientific ambitions are subverted by the expectations of her era. In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly. Entranced and in love, Meridian defers her own career path and follows Alden west to Los Alamos, where he is engaged in a secret government project (later known to be the atomic bomb). In married life, though, she feels lost and left behind. She channels her academic ambitions into studying a particular family of crows, whose free life and companionship are the very things that seem beyond her reach. There in her canyons, years later at the dawn of the 1970s, with counterculture youth filling the streets and protests against the war rupturing college campuses across the country, Meridian meets Clay, a young geologist and veteran of the Vietnam War, and together they seek ways to mend what the world has broken. Exquisitely capturing the claustrophobic eras of 1940s and 1950s America, The Atomic Weight of Love also examines the changing roles of women during the decades that followed. And in Meridian Wallace we find an unforgettable heroine whose metamorphosis shows how the women's movement opened up the world for a whole generation.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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.

Elizabeth Church’s stirring debut novel about ambition, identity, and sacrifice will ring true to every woman who has had to make the impossible choice between who she is and who circumstances demand her to be.
Haiku summary

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Elizabeth J. Church's book The Atomic Weight of Love was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.88)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2 2
2.5 1
3 21
3.5 11
4 46
4.5 11
5 16

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 173,882,761 books! | Top bar: Always visible