Two Jewish physicists fall in love while working on the mysterious Manhattan Project in this sweeping historical debut perfect for readers of Kate Quinn and Bonnie Garmus.

by Rachel Robbins
Crooked Lane, October 2024

Alice Kahn is a young Jewish physicist, one of the only female doctoral students in her class, studying with the famed Dr. Oppenheimer. An heiress, her family wants her to marry a man of her class and settle down; instead, Alice answers her country’s call to come to an unnamed city in the desert to work on a government project shrouded in secrecy.

At Los Alamos, Alice meets Caleb Fisher, a poor Orthodox Jew who has been assigned to the explosives division. Around them are other young scientists and engineers who have quietly left their university posts to come live in the desert. No one seems to know exactly what they are working on; what they do know is that it is a race, and that they must beat the Nazis in developing an unspeakable weapon. In this atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, and despite their many differences, Alice and Caleb find themselves drawn to one another.

Inspired by the author’s grandparents, and sure to appeal to fans of Good Night, Irene, ENOLA SPELLED BACKWARDS is a propulsive novel about love in desperate times, the consequences of our decisions, and the roles we play in history.

Rachel Robbins received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. She is a tenured assistant professor at Malcolm X College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. Most recently, her work has appeared in Rattle and The Kenyon Review. Rachel won Rhino Poetry’s Founder’s Prize and was nominated by Rhino Poetry for the Pushcart Prize in 2015. She was nominated by Make Literary Magazine for the Pushcart Prize in 2018.Rachel won the Illinois Arts Council Agency Literary Award in 2018.

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