The Wives of Los Alamos is a book that sat on my shelf for a few years. I originally bought a copy of the book after hearing great things about it. But then I held off reading it due to the use of the plural first person point of view (“We”, “Our”, etc instead of “I”). Turns out that I was hesitating for no reason. After a few pages, I got hooked by the book and the plural first person POV didn’t bother me at all. To be honest, I think one of the strengths of this book was this rarely used POV.
The POV plays a big part in telling the story of this large community of women. While every one of these women is an individual, they also shared many of the same experiences. This is reflected in the writing, along with various other experiences some may have went through. Through Nesbit’s writing each woman has a voice as well as the community of Los Alamos having a voice together.
Aside from how well that all was written, this book is also informative about this time in history. I don’t know many details about the Manhattan Project. I know a little more about it now. But what’s best about having read this book is that it wasn’t overloaded with details. That’s not the goal. The goal was to show the effect of secrets on marriages, families, friendships. It shows how this secretive relocation altered the course of the lives involved and then after, the course of world history. I could have read a non-fiction book that spelled out all the experimenting, politics, and more surrounding the project. But The Wives of Los Alamosmade it all human. History shouldn’t always be boiled down to the facts. Real humans were involved, and a book like this one reminded me of that.
If this is what Nesbit has to share with readers for a début novel, I can’t imagine what’s in store for us with the rest of her career.