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Universe of Two: A Novel by Stephen P.…

Universe of Two: A Novel

by Stephen P. Kiernan

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I have read all of Stephen Kiernan's books so I knew I was going to enjoy Universe of Two before I turned the first page. What I didn't realize was how deeply the book would affect me and that I'd still be thinking about it a week after I finished it. This is a beautifully written book about love and guilt and redemption.

The year is 1943 and Charlie meets Brenda when he comes into the music store that her mother owns and she works at. At first, she didn't think much of him. She was more interested in all of the soldiers on leave who wanted to dance and pay attention to her. Charlie wasn't very impressive when he first asked Brenda to play a song for him on the organ but as he kept coming in to the store, she found herself looking forward to his visits. Charlie was a Harvard graduate, a brilliant mathematician and was working for the government on the Manhattan Project. He had no idea exactly what he was working on and only knew his small part of the entire project with the rest being kept in secret. When he is sent to Los Alamos, he and Brenda plan to write to each other but that was a poor substitute for being together so she joins him in New Mexico. Charlie knew that he was working on a project for the government but had no idea that they were creating the first atomic bomb. He only knew that he was creating a detonator. Once he realized what the project was all about, he wanted to quit when he understood the possible devastation of this bomb. Once the bombs strike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the feelings of culpability devastate him and Brenda. When the war is over, the government agrees to pay for him to go to Stanford to get his doctorate but he finds everyone excited about the possibilities of atomic energy and realizes that he doesn't want to be part of it. He quit school and he and Brenda look for a career that will bring joy into the world and help to ease the guilt they feel over his part in building the atomic bomb.

The writing in this book is exquisite and the characters are multi-dimensional - the reader sees the good and the bad in the two main characters. My prediction is that this will be a very popular spring 2020 novel. I already know that it will be in my top 10 books for the year.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own. ( )
  susan0316 | Jan 31, 2020 |
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