Just the Right Book! is different than the other book subscriptions I’m reviewing this year in that a real life person actually picks a book out just for me – as opposed to picking out one book to go to all subscribers.
There are numerous subscriptions to choose from. I choose a 12-month softcover subscription, which cost me $240 and I filled out a fairly long and involved profile to indicate what genres, authors, etc. I’m interested in. You can read my past Just the Book! reviews to see how this subscription has worked out for me overall.
The book I received in March was The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church. As was the case last month, this is exactly what I want from this subscription – a book I would never have picked out on my own but that I ended up finding charming and just lovely.
Essentially, it is a story of a 17-year-old girl who gets engaged and marries a man 20 years her senior whom she hardly knows. It is the story of a woman scientist in the ’40s and how her career wasn’t even taking a backseat to her husband’s, it wasn’t even in the same car. It’s the story of impossible choices (her scientist husband was one of numerous scientists working in Los Alamos, New Mexico who essentially invented the atomic bomb) and of the fact that there is almost always good to be found with the bad and always sacrifices that come with the good.
Her story spans 40 or so years and during that time we find her grow as a human and finally learn to stand up for herself. This was a book that I found myself actively participating with. As in, at various junctures throughout the book, I was cheering on the protagonist while other times I was genuinely disappointed in her. Through it all though, these characters were rich and alive enough that I always understood their motivations and even when I didn’t agree with their actions, I could see why they felt as though the choices they made were the best choices available to them.
Recommended for: Folks who like science-related fiction, fans of birds, fans of complex love stories, readers of feminist fiction, and folks who want an epic adventure through forty years of a woman’s life.
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: N / N / Y / Y