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The Atomic Weight of Love: A Novel - Elizabeth J. Church

This well-crafted debut novel by Church centers around Meridian, a woman ahead of her time in her scholarly ambitions but trapped in her time by societal expectations. She falls in love with a professor several years her senior who is recruited to work at Los Alamos. Theirs is a marriage of minds more than hearts which down the road leads to estrangement.


Meridian gives up her graduate studies in ornithology to be with him at Los Alamos, a decision that weighs her down throughout the novel. Despite her choice to support her husband's career at the cost of her own, Meridian finds ways to keep her intellectual curiosity engaged with her notebooks of observations on crow behavior, and her emotional life alive with a good friend or two along the way and a surprising relationship with a hippy geologist she encounters in the desert.


The novel describes a woman and the era in which she lived. It made me glad that I was born a generation later and was given more choices. But no matter the time and place in which you live, life will present you with some hard choices that determine your path forward. You might as well make peace with that.