Parnassus Books is delighted to welcome Janet Beard as she reads from and signs her new novel The Atomic City Girls.
Oak Ridge, Tennessee—the American city where atomic bomb was developed. In The Atomic City Girls, Janet Beard brings the fascinating, untold story of the workers who were recruited to help win the war and build the atomic bomb. For Beard, this is a deeply personal story, as her own aunt was one of those workers. Oak Ridge is the hometown setting for the fictionalized story of eighteen-year-old June Walker, one of many young workers who lived in secrecy while unwittingly fashioning the mightiest of war tools. “Atomic City,” is a hastily wrought town of muddy roads, 24 hour cafeterias and segregated housing. Impoverished Americans, white and black, flock to the city for the well-paying jobs that will forever change their lives.
June begins a romance with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who understands the end goal of their collective endeavor all too well. Joe Brewer, an African-American construction worker shares the same ignorance of the government’s plans as June initially does. However, a breach in security will intertwine Joe’s fate with newly awakened June’s as she searches for answers. When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.
Author Janet Beard moved to New York from her native East Tennessee to study screenwriting at NYU. She went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and currently, Columbus, Ohio, where she is teaching writing, raising a daughter, and working on a new novel.