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Book Review

'Los Alamos' Is A Lyrical Portrait


When the wives of the Los Alamos scientists learn that their husbands have spent years building the atomic bomb, their world is forever changed. Their pride is replaced with shock and disillusionment.

In her debut novel, The Wives of Los Alamos, TaraShea Nesbit gives us an intimate view of this unique community of educated women who sacrifice a secure life in familiar neighborhoods, are given new names, and are displaced with their children and husbands to a secret place “out west.”

In short, descriptive passages, Nesbit uses the collective voice to keep us at a distance while she reinforces the impenetrable bond of secrecy the women live with. They quickly learn to look the other way when they have to, and nurture each other when they need to. The focus is always on being good mothers and wives.

Early in the book, Nesbit relates the fragile sense of security each woman lives with. She observes that, “like many moving toward an unknown future, we clung to the beliefs that had carried us this far—about people, the world, our husbands, the war—until that strategy could no longer assuage our fears.”

The Wives of Los Alamos lyrically imagines the lives of real women who lived in a shroud of secrecy and isolation because they believed in the mission of the men and the country they loved.