Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Atomic Weight of Love” as Want to Read:
The Atomic Weight of Love
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Atomic Weight of Love

by
3.89  ·  Rating details ·  5,008 Ratings  ·  869 Reviews
In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife and Loving Frank, this resonant debut spans the years from World War II through the Vietnam War to tell the story of a woman whose scientific ambition is caught up in her relationships with two very different men.

For Meridian Wallace - and many other smart, driven women of the 1940s - being ambitious meant being an outlier. Ever since sh
...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Algonquin Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Atomic Weight of Love, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Carol There is a graphic sex portion, not my favorite section, but the rest of the book is truly inspirational for women. Parents: If your teen is mature…moreThere is a graphic sex portion, not my favorite section, but the rest of the book is truly inspirational for women. Parents: If your teen is mature enough, let her read it. Better still, read it together. Teens: Read it with your parent.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Elyse
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Update: Kindle has this for $1.99 today!
It's FANTASTIC! I listened to the audiobook- loved the audiobook- but I'd read it just as much!


I just can't say enough good things about this book. I really really really liked it a lot!!!
THE AUDIOBOOK LITERALLY HELD ME HOSTAGE. My feet were walking on the trail - and time flew by.

Meridian Wallace is an aspiring ornithologist- a student in college. Nothing about this tidbit information - or the blub - or even the book cover - ( as eye catching as it is)
...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
4+ This was my favorite fictional read of the month. Meridian is pursuing her dream of becoming an ornithologist, able to attend the University of Chicago by a mother who wants the nest for her daughters. There she meets and eventually marries on of her professors who seems to treasure Meri's mind. Alden is a brilliant scientist himself and will soon become one of the team at Los Alamos, working on a secret project.

Life in the 1940's was narrowly defined for most women. College until marriage an
...more
Iris P
The Atomic Weight of Love

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church


The Atomic Weight Of Love is a work of historical fiction that follows the life of Meridian (Meri) Wallace. We first meet her in the 1940's, as a naive 17- year-old studying to become an Ornithologist at the University of Chicago and someone who by all accounts, has a promising career ahead of her.

At university she meets and shortly marries her teacher Alden Whetstone, an eminent Physicist who would eventually become involved in the development of the atomic bomb.

At its
...more
Cheri
4.5 Stars

It’s keeping promises, not making them, that is the impossible thing.

I’d read The Wives of Los Alamos in 2015, which is also about the families of the men behind the creation of the Atomic bomb. When I first heard about The Atomic Weight of Love I passed on it since it seemed a similar take on the same story, but after reading Diane’s review (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), I began to rethink that decision and look into it more. I read Dorie’s review (https://www.goodreads.c
...more
Cathrine ☯️
4.75★
The author sets her story in the place where she grew up. Her father did help create the bomb and her mother, a biologist, chose to join him and live life as a committed wife and mother in a community and time “where for the most part a woman was expected to acquiesce to her husband’s wishes and invest her talents in her children.” She wanted to write a story about a woman who might have bridged the differences between those times of the matriarchs in her family and her own experiences and
...more
Richard Derus
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
2017 NEWS! THE PAPERBACK EDITION IS OUT NOW! $15.95

Rating: 4* of five

At long, long last, a book about a woman's life of rigorous self-denial and eventual blossoming that cleanses the humid, metallic bloodiness of The Awakening from my mental palate. A dry, cold blast of piñon-scented mountain air sweeping clean a century's accumulation of moldy, clammy death-scented grave dirt.

In case anyone would like to see the entire review, it's live today.
Jennifer
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“We have to take flight. It's not given to us, served up on a pretty, parsley-bordered platter. We have to take wing. Was I brave enough to do that? Or would I be content to remain earthbound?”

4.5 stars

I relished this story of Meridian (Meri) Whetstone -- her life, her marriage, her career, and her choices. While I questioned some of the actions of the characters, this is a book which felt very authentic. The plot focuses on the outcome of Meri's deicisons when she tables her dreams, talent, and
...more
Rebecca Foster
In Church’s debut, an amateur ornithologist learns about love and sacrifice through marriage to a Los Alamos physicist and a relationship with a Vietnam veteran. Torn between two men who mean so much to her, Meri has to consider what her true duties are. “There was no good solution. No clear way out, no approach that would earn the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” she wryly observes. I instantly warmed to Meri as a narrator and loved following her unpredictable life story. Church reveals the ...more
Deanna
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: repeatable
I want more stars for this book. It's the best thing I've read this year, and I'm the perfect reader for it--though I can easily see how it is not at a for everyone.

Coincidentally it's the book that put me to the finish line on my reading challenge for the year, which delights me. It's going on the read again shelf. Memorable, unpredictable, smart, linear, focused, endlessly compelling, and about just about all the things I care about. Discovering books like this is why we read.
Margitte

As an eighty-seven year old woman, Meri writes her memoir.

Meridian Whetstone had a healthy, loving relationship with her parents, both father and mother, but is endorced and supported by her mother to become the ornithologist she wanted to be.
Her mother, working several odd jobs to keep her at university, after her dather's passing, never complained.
~ A love defined by mother's instinct.

Meri met a physicist, professor Alden Whetstone, twenty-one years older than her, fell madly in love with his
...more
Victoria
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
…I wondered how many times a heart can heal. Are we allotted a specific number of comebacks from heartbreak? Or is that what really kills us, in the end--not strokes or cancer or pneumonia--but instead just one too many blows to the heart? Doctors talk of ‘cardiac insults’--such a perfect turn of phrase--but they know nothing of the heart, not truly.

Exquisite, impressive and contemplative, this is a really smart book that was not easy to get into, but the outstanding writing, the finely-crafted
...more
Dorie
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
The time and place, the scientists working on the A bomb at Los Alamos, are what drew me to this book. I have read other books about the families that were a part of the operation of the entire site and it’s amazing how virtually a small city was established in this lightly populated area.

Meridian Whetstone is an aspiring orinthologist who falls in love with her professor and agrees to put her career on hold and follow Alden to Los Alamos. As their relationship turns into a wife-husband scenario
...more
cardulelia carduelis
I didn't really like this book when it started. In fact, some passages so infuriated me that I bookmarked the pages to reference in this review. Somewhere around page 100 however, I stopped taking notes and was gripped by the story.

This review is tricky, because the subject matter feels very personal and so it's going to colour the review more than I'd like. I suppose all of my reviews are heavily subjective anyway but with this one I'm especially aware of it. Apologies.

I picked this book up b
...more
Ammara Abid
Mar 30, 2017 rated it liked it
'The atomic weight of love' the title, yes that title grab my attention and forced me to read the book soon. I started the book with high hopes but it wasn't upto my expectations. I can't interpret my actual feelings regarding it. I like few parts, those were beautifully written but the idea didn't connect. Too many things but they were not interacted, if they would, it would be a masterpiece for me. The starting page was epic, Meri is an ornithologist, war is going on and then her love life and ...more
DeB MaRtEnS
In the novel THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE, Meridian Whetstone, aged eighty-seven, introduces her fictional life story to us as a reflective memoir. She tells us about her husband Arden, and ultimately, sums up the wisdom acquired in a complicated period of time and through experience.

"I first loved him because he taught me the flight of a bird, precisely how it happens, how it is possible. ... I was too young to realize that what I really yearned to know was WHY birds take flight - and why, someti
...more
Brandice
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow, I absolutely loved The Atomic Weight of Love! The story was great and the writing throughout the book was beautiful.

The story is told in first person perspective from Meridian Wallace, an intellectual female and aspiring ornithologist. She falls in love with one of her professors, Alden Whetstone, and the story follows her along their journey, in which she moves across the country to be with him and reconsiders some of her own ambitions in support of Alden’s - for better or for worse. The
...more
Terri Jacobson
It's 1941, and Meridian Wallace is starting her studies at the University of Chicago. Meridian is an unusual young woman for her time--she longs to be a scientist, and is not so interested in the whole wife and motherhood routine. Meridian meets Alden Whetstone, a physicist 20 years her senior. As their relationship develops, Alden seems to appreciate her mind, and he challenges her to pursue her dreams of being an ornithologist. They marry.

Then Alden is called out west to Los Alamos for the Man
...more
Yelda Basar Moers
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I've fallen in love with a book, so lost in it that I forget my own time and place and feel completely immersed in the time and place of the story. I think the last time this happened to me was several years ago when I read The Lovely Bones and Anna Karenina.

The Atomic Weight of Love, highly recommended by the Amazon book review blog Omnivoracious (where I discovered it), is a debut novel by Elizabeth J. Church. It's the story of a budding ornithologist in the 1940s
...more
Karen
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick and easy read, the writing flows nicely. Some coarse language and sexual situaions. I give the book a 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5 stars. I would recommend to others.

It's a coming of age story ... a love story... a brilliant woman withering in the shadow of her brilliant husband and knowing she must break free of her mediocre life and be her own person. The book follows Meridian's life span from the 1920's to present time. So much happened over time, war and peace, love and hate, growing into
...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised to learn that I found much to love about this novel. 1) Crows! 2) Science! 3)Southwestern setting – I so enjoyed the references to Mexican food, New Mexico’s landscape, roadrunners, coyotes (so similar to Arizona’s). Of the New Mexico landscape, Church writes, “It seemed the line between life and death was easily crossed here.” Yes! 4) Fabulous, subtle parallels between crow behavior and human relationships.

Admittedly, first-person novels aren’t general
...more
Ashley Woods
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Three fantastic reasons to pick up this book:

1. The birds. Meridian's ornithological studies are brilliantly woven into the storyline of this book, and I have never in my life been so amazed by crows. Church interweaves the habits of various species of birds into each chapter in ways that are equal parts poetic and poignant. "Flight requires defiance of gravity and is really, when you think about it, a bold act...don't confuse gliding with soaring. To soar, an animal must have evolved to possess
...more
Irene
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
A bright college student marries her professor, 20 years her senior. Despite the fact that this is the early 1940s, she silently assumes that marriage will have no impact on her dreams of pursuing graduate work and a career as an ornithologist. Over the ensuing decades she becomes increasingly resentful of and estranged from her husband. There is a scene early in the marriage that reflected my perception of this novel. A dinner party concludes with the women sharing stories and pictures of their ...more
Dale Harcombe
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars.
I was interested in this story from the start, although the book never quite went in the direction I thought it would. The writing is mostly beautiful. I loved the way each chapter started with some information about birds. I kept reading snippets out to my husband. The first is a parliament of owls. How could I not love that! Others include a tidings of magpies, a party of jays and a murder of crows. Crows feature a lot in this book. Meridian Wallace, the main character h
...more
Dylann
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received an advanced reading copy of The Atomic Weight of Love in exchange for an honest review. I was anticipating loving this novel, but 50 pages in I realized this was something entirely different than I'd expected. I was a bit turned off by the cheesy, sentimental title but the story of a female scientist set against the backdrop of Los Alamos was intriguing so I assumed someone had just made a poor choice. I was disappointed to find that the story never really delved deep and the characte ...more
joyce g
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, sad and triumphant!
Joshua Buhs
*Shrugs shoulders.*

A soup-to-nuts tale of a woman's awakening to her own powers.

The story tells of Meridian Wallace, a Scotch Pennsylvania, who by dint of brains and hard work, ends up at the University of Chicago, where she studies biology and dreams of going to graduate school and becoming a professor. But she is waylaid--emphasis on the laid--by another professor, two-decades her senior, a physicist who is recruited to work for the Manhattan Project, but not before he gets Meridian to marry h
...more
Sophia
AUDIO REVIEW

This was a book that left me processing and unsure of just how I felt about it when all was said and done. Let's just say that whatever preconceived notions I had (even though I hadn't realized I made any) had to be discarded. And more than once. A sleeper book that fools you with it's outer packaging, initial set up and mid-story reset, it was soft and gentle, but had hidden sharpness that cut and drew out the readers emotions and thoughts. It doesn't want to be pigeon-holed not eve
...more
Lorna
The Atomic Weight of Love is a beautifully written novel that tells the story of the life of Meridian Whetstone and, as she tells us, "This is not Oppeheimer's story. . not that of Edward Teller or Niels Bohr, Fermi or Feynman. This is not the story of the creation of the atomic bomb, or of Los Alamos. . . . This is my story, the story of a woman who accompanied the bomb's birth and tried to fly in its aftermath." This is a story of one woman as she looks back on her life and her relationships a ...more
KatieMc
I loved the feminist message in this book. It featured a woman who loved multiple men without any slut shaming. It featured a woman whose sacrifice and compromise for her spouse did not lead to her happiness. If featured a childless woman whose empty nest did not lead to her unhappiness. It featured a modern women in a historical context (~1940-1975) without making her plucky, stubborn or selfish. The writing was a bit overwrought for my personal tastes, but many will probably find it lovely. As ...more
Janet
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
By chapter one I was comparing this quite favorably to Liz Gilbert's THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS, and by chapter two I was enamored of this independent, fiercely intelligent protagonist. THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE is full of such strength, warmth, love, and knowledge--while I read this, I saw the world with eyes wide open, extra curious and inquisitive about the science surrounding me as well as the uncategorizable interior elements that make us tick. Highly recommended.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Song of the Swan
  • Laceys of Liverpool
  • The City Baker's Guide to Country Living
  • Love is all You Need: A Sweet Romance Box Set
  • Compromised for Christmas
  • Thanksgiving
  • Love Pursued
  • To Lure a Proper Lady (Duke-Defying Daughters #1)
  • Christmas Scandal...Not!
  • Passchendaele
  • Campari for Breakfast
  • The Underground Railroad
  • My So-Called Ruined Life (Tate McCoy, #1)
  • Red Satin
  • A Gentleman in Moscow
  • Scandalous Virtue (The Saint of Seven Dials, #0)
  • The Whole Town's Talking
  • I Thee Wed (Worthington, #4)
216 followers
Elizabeth J. Church is the author of THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE , which was a #1 Indie Next List selection and a Target Club Pick, and was shortlisted by the ABA Indies Choice Book Awards for adult debut book of the year and the Reading the West Book Awards for best adult fiction. ALL THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS is her second novel.
More about Elizabeth J. Church

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • An Empty Cup
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Underground River
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Word Game
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fraulein M.
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sister of Mine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bury What We Cannot Take
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Searching for Grace Kelly
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Bricking It
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Thunder and Rain
    $9.99 $2.99
  • All Grown Up
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ecstasy
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Virtues of Oxygen
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Home to Harmony (Harmony #1)
    $11.14 $1.99
  • Dog Crazy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Towers of Tuscany
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Who We Were Before
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Reluctant Midwife (Hope River, #2)
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Sin No More (Reverend Curtis Black)
    $10.39 $1.99
  • The List
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Lost & Found
    $5.74 $1.99
  • A Watershed Year
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Savage
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Designer
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Novice: A Story of True Love
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Go Away Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Leaving of Things
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Hidden Flower
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances
    $9.99 $1.99
  • This Burns My Heart
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Journeys of Socrates
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.20
  • An Absent Mind
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Book of Ruth
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Covenant
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Digging In
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
    $11.99 $12.99
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Going Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Girl in the Glass
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Super Sad True Love Story
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Prayers and Lies
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Go the F**k to Sleep
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Just a Couple of Days
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Boleyn Inheritance (The Tudor Court, #3)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Daughter of Union County
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Fighting Ground
    $6.49 $1.99
  • The Sugar Men
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Last Storyteller: A Novel Of Ireland
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Vengeance Road
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stiltsville: A Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Fortune's Daughter
    $17.99 $1.99
  • To the Bright Edge of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Beach House Memories
    $7.99 $2.99
  • The Patriots
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Flicker of Old Dreams
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All the Good Parts
    $3.99 $1.99
  • At Risk
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Drowning Season: A Novel
    $17.99 $1.99
  • White Horses: A Novel
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Food of Love
    $3.99 $1.99
  • So Long, See You Tomorrow
    $11.99 $2.99
  • A Scattered Life
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Desert God (Ancient Egypt, #5)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • An Amish Buggy Ride
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Elizabeth Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $4.99 $1.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Sinful Calling (Reverend Curtis Black #13)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • On a Cold Dark Sea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • My Lady Viper (Tales from the Tudor Court #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Edward Adrift
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $1.99
“We have to take flight. It's not given to us, served up on a pretty, parsley-bordered platter. We have to take wing. Was I brave enough to do that? Or would I be content to remain earthbound?” 8 likes
“Take one Naive Girl. Bring to room temperature in the Big City. Add three cups Academia. If in one cup Encouragement. Fold in two drop Love. Sprinkle with one teaspoon Adoration. Mix thoroughly. Spoon carefully into greased Pan of Matrimony. Bake in Desert Heat for 25. Test doneness with Careless Toothpick. Let cool on Wire Rack of Inertia. Serve with generous dollops of Benign Neglect.” 7 likes
More quotes…