The girls of Atomic City : the untold story of the women who helped win World War II

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  Denise Kiernan
Title:  The girls of Atomic City : the untold story of the women who helped win World War II 
Recruited for jobs in a town that did not exist,thousands of women from 1943-1945 worked as factory workers, secretaries,custodians, nurses, chemists,and more in Oak Ridge.   Their employer,Clinton Engineer Works, only told these women their jobs  would serve to bring the war to a speedy end. Shrouded in secrecy, 75,000 workers toiled. Although many suspected something BIG was happening, few pieced together the true nature of their work until August 6,1945 when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. For three years uranium was enriched at Oak Ridge and sent to Los Alamos for use in the “GADGET”.  For this book, the author interviewed hundreds of women. Most were high school graduates from farm families in rural towns, while some had college degrees in chemistry or statistics.   Kiernan focuses on the lives of nine women in particular. I found this book enlightening. This is a part of our history that few know.

Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Charlotte Druckman
Title: Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen
This book details some of the travails and triumphs of professional women chefs, told from the viewpoints of 72 female chefs. Being a chef can be a strenuous career – now ratchet up the level of difficulty for a female in the field, both due to the physicality of the job and the attitudes encountered along the brigade de cuisine. It also poses the question of how many women leave the professional kitchen when they have children. It starts out a little dry, but stick with it.

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

From Elaine Pasquali
Title:  The Gift of an Ordinary Day
Author:  Katrina Kenison
Kenison uproots her family from an upper middle class suburb to relocate to rural New Hampshire. The purpose: live a simpler life.  Kenison steam-roles over her husband and two sons with her relocation plans.  The family is uprooted; her youngest son is so unhappy he cries himself to sleep for a year.  The three month stay with her parents turns into three years.  Family finances are severely strained as is her marriage. For a while, Kenison’s perfectionism  becomes obsessive.  Eventually, she evolves, letting go of some of her need for control.  She begins to  treasure the ordinary moments of everyday life.  Her family moves forward and change becomes a fabric of their family life.  Was it worth the angst along the way?  You’ll have to judge that for yourself.

Gift from the Sea

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author:  Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea 
This classic collection of essays touches on women’s place in society and poses the question of how to balance self-preservation and the myriad needs that everyday life brings. What’s especially interesting is how Morrow touches on marriage and relationships, both marital and extramarital, during the time when her husband, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, had a secret hidden family in addition to the family and children he had with her. The book also discusses how advancements in mechanization have impacted women – and not always for the better. This is especially interesting when you consider that the book was written more than fifty years ago.

This is not a book of fluff, but one to be read carefully, and perhaps more than once.

Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book

From Gina Scaglione
author: Love, Susan
Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book
 This book is a lifesaver for any woman. However, for women facing health problems, specifically those related to the breast, this book may actually be the difference between life and death. I can not say how helpf this book has been. Thank you Dr. Susan Love!

The road of lost innocence

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Mam, Somaly
The road of lost innocence
 This is the true story of a Cambodian woman who was sold into prostitution at the age of sixteen.  Somaly was abandoned by her birth parents when she was about five years old. A neighbor in her northeastern Cambodian village of Bou Sra took her in. She is Phnong., which is a tribe of mountain people. The poverty and primitivity she describes in her youth is almost beyond belief. She doesn’t know when she was born; she thinks it’s 1970 or 1971.  The Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979 was responsible for the deaths of about 20% of the population of Cambodia.  The Khmer seem to have also robbed the Cambodians of their culture and their spirit. Somaly describes with sickening detail her daily beatings and rapes.  The specifics are so shocking, I cannot describe them here. She doesn’t mention the word “torture”, but I believe she was tortured as well.  Her narrative doesn’t beg for us to pity her. She tells her story as an example of all the other girls sold into sexu  al slavery. She says that her experience was almost nothing (!) compared to the experience of those today. Virgins are especially prized ; girls of 5 or 6 years old are sold and raped repeatedly. The beatings today are even worse. She says that judges can’t be bribed in Cambodia; they’ve already been bought. The men who should be maintaining the law: the military, the police and the judges, are also customers of the brothels.  Even “humanitarian aid workers” use prostitutes! These sex traffickers make the mafia look like boy scouts.  She argues that the only way to stop it is for the international community to take notice and to bring the ringleaders to justice.   Today she runs an organization called AFESIP that rescues children from sexual slavery and provides housing, schooling and vocational training.  One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by her account.