#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: The Atomic Weight of Love

May 3, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 16 ★★★

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: The Atomic Weight of LoveTitle: The Atomic Weight of Love: A Novel
Author: Elizabeth J. Church
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: I liked the idea of this book and the writing was beautiful, but the tone was too detached and the glimpses of the protagonists life were too brief.

“In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly. Entranced and in love, Meridian defers her own career path and follows Alden west to Los Alamos, where he is engaged in a secret government project (later known to be the atomic bomb).” (Source) Once there, Alden and Meridian’s relationship suffers. They no longer have the intellectual conversations she so loved and she resents that Alden respects her less now that she no longer has the academic career she gave up for him. When, twenty years later, a young Vietnam veteran shakes up Meridian’s life, she must decide if it’s too late to start again.

Well, this was the wrong book for me to be reading right now. My husband and I both have great respect for the importance of each other’s careers, but even so, it was tough reading about a woman giving up the dream of a PhD just as I’m fighting through the last stretch of mine. Please keep in mind that this probably influenced my reading of this book. I’m generally someone who hates reading about things that almost work out or people with regrets though, so this might not have worked for me at anytime. I found it a very stressful read. I wanted to shout at Meridian to not make so many of her decisions. I wanted so badly for her to have the career she’d dreamed of. I never peak ahead and hate spoilers, but I did skim ahead a few times in this book because I just wanted to know it would all work out. It wasn’t a fun reading experience.

The writing reminder me of Meridian’s relationship with Alden – appealingly intelligent, but a little too stiff, showing too little emotion. I loved Meridian’s intelligence and the author’s clever way with words as well, but frustration was the only emotion this book made me feel. The author’s writing was too objective. She described Meridian’s emotions to me, but she didn’t make me feel them. I think part of the problem was that this was a 300 page book covering 60+ years. Every single part of Meridian’s life suffered for the brevity with which it was described. I never understood her relationship with Alden. There were two or three tiny snippets that made me see good things about him, but this was nowhere near enough to offset the near abusiveness we see in some of the other snippets. The periods of Meridian’s life where she was happy flew by far too quickly, but I wanted more about even her sorrow and regret.

I do have a giveaway of this book and I know that may be less appealing given my review! However, I do think some people will enjoy this more than I did and the goodreads reviews suggest that I’m right. I would most recommend this to people who don’t share my dislike of characters with regrets and for whom clever writing is particularly important in determining whether or not you’ll enjoy a book.

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16 Responses to “#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: The Atomic Weight of Love”

  1. Kailana

    That is too bad you didn’t enjoy this more. I hate when I like the idea of a book more than I like the book itself!

  2. Priscilla

    I’ve been reading the reviews on goodreads. It looks like the problem lies on the execution. Shame you didn’t enjoy this as much as you’d hoped, Katie. Let’s hope your next book is an even better one 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I’ll have to check out the reviews! I’m curious to see if other people generally shared my reaction to this one.

  3. tanya (52 books or bust)

    When i was doing my PhD i read some depressing statistic about how many marriages fail when only one party has a PhD, and the rate of failure only increases if that one PhD is held by the wife. Our marriage has never suffered. Apparently we beat the odds. But i can see why this book didn’t quite work for you. I’m still adding it to my list.

    • DoingDewey

      I could see you liking it better than I did and I hope that’s the case if you pick it up 🙂 I’m glad to hear that you’ve not found only one of you having a PhD too challenging. Especially after reading such a depressing book, it’s nice to hear about a real relationship working out.

  4. Guiltless Reading

    I LOVE the idea of this too. It’s always a bit deflating when a book doesn’t live up to one’s expectations. Oh well. Maybe the next one will be over the top amazing! 🙂 Happy summer!

  5. Jennifer C

    I also love the idea of this book and am willing to give it a try, particularly because I finished my Ph.D. and graduated two months before I began dating my husband. Katie, thanks for your always thoughtful review, and best of luck in finishing your Ph.D.!

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Jennifer! It’s possible this one would be more enjoyable now that your PhD is in the past. I just found her story of giving up really got me down at a time when I’m fighting so hard to finish mine!

      • Jennifer C

        I totally understand, Katie. I remember those feelings all too well, and you have to find motivation wherever you can to get you through. I finished my internship and was ABD while working for a year (had written introduction/proposed my dissertation and collected all data, but the data analysis and all the rest of the writing had not been done, as well as the defense)…It took my dissertation chair’s impending retirement to light a fire under me to finish! Sometimes motivators are extrinsic! Your determination and dedication has gotten you this far, and I am so excited for you to finish and get to the other side. Sending lots of good thoughts.

        • DoingDewey

          Aww, thanks Jennifer! Right now, my husband and I are doing the long distance thing again until he finishes, so I’m definitely feeling motivated 🙂

  6. Disappointed

    My biggest concern is that once she experiences fabulous sex, why does she not continue to pursue it? Even if the pot-smoking Clay is not the one, her body deserves to remain fulfilled.

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