[Book Review] Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum

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By Rachel Barenbaum

Atomic Anna is the story of three incredible women spanning three generations. The first is Anna Berkova, a nuclear scientist, working the Soviet Union in 1986 when Chernobyl melts down. It is at this moment she accidentally discovers her ability to time jump and is reunited with her estranged daughter, Molly. Molly has an important message for her mother. Molly requests her mother protect Molly’s daughter, Raisa, and set their family legacy on a better path.

Time travel, three generations of women spanning different time periods, a disaster of historic proportions, and messages hidden in comic books. Barenbaum packs a lot into this novel. And it all works. Brilliantly, in fact. This story also explores a wide range of themes from addiction, anti-Semetism, prejudice against immigrants. It had me engrossed from the first page and did not let go.

One of Barenbaum’s strengths is celebrating intelligent, multi-dimensional, complex Jewish women at the heart of her stories. And this book is no exception. In fact, she’s managed to create three of them at the center of this narrative. These are the modern day Miriams, Esthers, and Ruths.

This is contemporary Jewish literature at its finest.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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More on this Author

RACHEL’S second novel is ATOMIC ANNA. Her debut, A BEND IN THE STARS was named a New York Times Summer Reading Selection and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. It was also a Boston Globe Bestseller.

Rachel is a prolific writer and reviewer and her work has appeared in the LA Review of Books, the Tel Aviv Review of Books and DeadDarlings. She is an Honorary Research Associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University and a graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator. She is also the founder of Debut Spotlight and the Debut Editor at A Mighty Blaze. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor. She has degrees from Harvard in Business and Literature and Philosophy. She lives in Brookline, MA.

Rachel Barenbaum

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