1944. When sixteen-year-old Ruby Pickett and her family move to the new, government-built city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Ruby knows that her daddy’s new job will help the war effort, but she has no idea how. Ruby is not alone in her lack of knowledge, as the city’s true purpose is a carefully guarded secret. A thinker and a reader, Ruby has always been restless, and she finds Oak Ridge a much more stimulating environment than her old home in rural Southeastern Kentucky.
Ruby finds a kindred spirit in twenty-three-year-old Iris, a wife and mother who has moved to Oak Ridge with her scientist husband and is frustrated by the intellectual limitations of being a full-time housewife. Ruby and Iris’s relationship starts as friendship but deepens in emotional intensity until it, like the purpose of Oak Ridge itself, is a dangerous secret.
Rainbow Project of the American Library Association - Top Ten 2015 Recommended Young Adult Read
Grades 8-12. When sixteen-year-old Ruby Pickett moves with her family to Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1944, she is told not to talk about why this new city was created. When Ruby starts working for Iris, a young mother whose husband works in one of the top-secret government buildings, their friendship blossoms into something more and Ruby begins to believe in a wider world for herself.
GCLS Goldie Awards
Secret City — Winner,
Lesbian Young Adult.
Lambda Literary Foundation
Secret City — Finalist, LGBT Young Adult.
The story is warm-hearted, tender, full of interesting, well-developed characters... A worthy read for everyone who will want to explore the times when women started out to become more independent or for all who just want to read a really good historical novel.
Lambda Literary Review
Reviewer Julie Harthill — Secret City is an important addition to the genre... The novel explores themes such as war, forbidden love, and coming-of-age in a way that resonates; readers of all ages will catch glimpses of themselves in Watts' setting and in her beautifully-drawn characters.
Further Praise for Julia Watts!
Lambda Literary Awards: Julia Watts — Winner, LGBT Young Adult for Finding H.F.