The Atomic Weight of Love is an outstanding debut novel. Meridian Wallace puts her dreams of a Masters and PhD. on hold and follows her husband, Alden Whetstone, to Los Alamos, New Mexico where he helps develop the atomic bomb. Meridian’s unfinished scholarly work in ornithology leads her to question her life with Alden, who becomes more interested in his work and must lead a rather secretive life. Clay Griffin, a Vietnam veteran, changes the course of Meridian’s life when he teaches her the value of an equal relationship and following her own path. Meridian’s growing interest in women’s liberation and her affair with Clay show how discontent simmers below the surface when potential cannot be fulfilled.
This lyrical novel includes insightful passages about the beauty of nature, science, and the behavior of crows that make it hard to put down and even harder to forget. Meridian is a fascinating, maddening, and well-rounded character. The history of this novel shows how far women have come in the past few decades.