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Janet Beard


The Atomic City Girls

international bestseller

William Morrow

"Beard has taken a project of momentous impact and injected a human element into it... This is approachable, intelligent, and highly satisfying historical fiction."-  Booklist *starred review

"Suspenseful and intriguing, The Atomic City Girls explores an aspect of the Manhattan Project long shrouded in secrecy, bringing to light an important chapter of World War II history."- Jennifer Chiaverini, New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

"Fans of historical fiction will devour this complex and human look at the people involved in the creation of the atomic bomb."- Kirkus Reviews

"Both page-turning and illuminating, The Atomic City Girls brings to life an eerie piece of world history."- Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of The Song of Achilles

"The Atomic City Girls is a fascinating and compelling novel about a little known piece of WWII history."- Maggie Leffler, international bestselling author of The Secrets of Flight 


The Atomic City Girls

What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”


In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.


Evenings are spent flirting at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. While June wants to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young physicist from New York who understands the end goal only too well, her beautiful roommate Cici’s goal is to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.


When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.

Beneath the Pines

In 1957, Mary Alice was a rebellious teenager in love with a rich Yankee boy who had just moved to her small Virginia mountain town—much to the chagrin of her God-fearing mother, Lavinia. By 2004, Mary Alice has become a spinster biology teacher who hasn’t spoken to her mother in over forty years.

When Lavinia dies, Mary Alice’s niece, Claire, inherits the family house and moves to Virginia, bringing along a deep curiosity about her family’s dark past—and plenty of emotional baggage of her own.




Reviews of The Atomic City Girls

"Beard has taken a project of momentous impact and injected a human element into it... This is approachable, intelligent, and highly satisfying historical fiction."-  Booklist *starred review

"Fans of historical fiction will devour this complex and human look at the people involved in the creation of the atomic bomb."- Kirkus Reviews

"The Atomic City Girls explores love, war and patriotism, forcing the reader to consider the devastating effects of Hiroshima."- Associated Press

"In her fast-paced blend of fact and fiction, The Atomic City Girls, Janet Beard uses the viewpoints of a diffuse group of characters to create an impressively realized portrait of life in Oak Ridge, Tennessee."- Bookpage

"An illuminating work of historical fiction."- Denver Post Staff Pick 

"Beard's fascinating narrative brings to life four people with different outlooks and dreams whose fates memorably intertwine."- Publishers Weekly

"Readers who enjoyed Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls will appreciate this glimpse into the beliefs and attitudes that shaped America during World War II."- Library Journal

"Despite its historically accurate physical details, the realm of The Atomic City Girls remains clearly fictional: character-driven and imaginative."- Chapter 16

"An informative portrayal of a significant historical episode often reduced to footnote status.... Beard manages to imbue this well-researched novel with warmth and charm"- Fiction Writers Review

"Though history long ago informed us of the drastic results of the Manhattan Project, it is interesting to read what life was like for the residents and workers at Oak Ridge. And in this day of ubiquitous and ever-invasive communications, it would be difficult to understand how the Manhattan Project actually pulled off its humongous top-secret goal without the thorough research of author Janet Beard."- Bookreporter

"The characters and settings are incredibly well-written and well-researched, dropping the reader into the lives of ordinary people living during an extraordinary time."- Mattoon Journal Gazette & Times-Courier

"Each character’s story is compelling and believable, and the story as a whole — the tale of one of the places where the atom bomb was made — is enthralling."- Pamela Kramer

"Beard makes this lost community come alive in this well-researched novel, giving readers a glimpse of the types of people who lived and worked and loved there, and allowing them to walk in the shoes of her characters, driving home the truth of the place despite this being fiction."- GeekMom

"If you’ve ever wondered how the atomic bomb came to be then you must read The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard."- KRCU Public Radio

Interviews with Janet Beard

The Tennessean 

Book Talk with Kory French podcast 

The Columbus Dispatch

Blount County, TN Daily Times

(614) Magazine

Washington Independent Review of Books

The University of Tennessee Daily Beacon

The Historical Novel Society


Deborah Kalb Books


Literary Lushes podcast

Writing Fun Youtube Channel

The Livermore Independent

Articles by Janet Beard

"The Women's History Hidden in America's Nuclear Past" Time


"She Wrote a Novel About Nuclear Terror- Could it Come True?" Daily Beast

"Six Books About Women in World War II" BookBub Blog

"Ten Rules for a Writer to Survive the Long Haul in Traditional Publishing" daily (w)rite

Articles about Janet Beard

The Livermore Independent

Presentations by Janet Beard

Author talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008, and her follow-up, The Atomic City Girls became an international bestseller 2018. Janet's latest novel, The Ballad of Laurel Springs, will be released in 2021. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio, where she is currently raising a daughter and working on a new novel. 



The Ballad of Laurel Springs, forthcoming 2021, Gallery Books

Stay tuned for more information!



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