Rachel Barenbaum — 2022
Three brilliant women. Two life-changing mistakes. One chance to reset the future. In 1986, renowned nuclear scientist, Anna Berkov, is sleeping in her bed in the Soviet Union when Chernobyl's reactor melts down. At that exact moment she tears through time--her first jump - and it's an accident. When she opens her eyes, she's landed in 1992 only to discover Molly, her estranged daughter, shot in the chest. Molly, with her dying breath, begs Anna to go back in time and stop the disaster, to save Molly's daughter Raisa, and put their family's future on a better path. In the '60s, Molly is coming of age as an adopted refusenik in a Russian enclave of Philadelphia. Her family is full of secrets and a past they won't share. She finds solace in comic books, drawing her own series, Atomic Anna, inspired by her birth mother, and she's determined to make it in the world as an artist. When she meets the volatile, charismatic Viktor, their romance sets her life on a very different course. In the '80s, Raisa, a math prodigy, is a lonely teenager with her mother lost to a life of drugs. She devotes herself to studying until a quiet, handsome boy moves in across the street and an odd old woman claiming to be her biological grandmother begins asking for her help. As Raisa finds new issues of Atomic Anna in unexpected places, she notices each comic challenges her to solve equations leading to one impossible conclusion: time travel. And she finally understands what she has to do. Atomic Anna is a sweeping journey across time, space and the many forms of love. As these remarkable women take responsibility for their choices and work together to prevent the greatest nuclear disaster of the 20th century, they grapple with the power their discoveries hold. No one can control how knowledge is used when it's out in the world, and just because you can change the past, does it mean you should?