The Hours Count is a historical, fiction novel about another viewpoint into Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Instead of being told through their points of view, it's told through an outsider's head, the neighbor and friend Millie Stein.
Millie is likeable enough, even if her intelligence wouldn't win any awards. She's with a horrible husband I'd end up murdering in my sleep, has a sweet child who would be considered autistic today, and kind of goes through life trying to find herself. Her one friend, Ethel, is a solace in time of trouble; they share the joys and pains of motherhood, bringing forth a realistic struggle books aren't always honest about.
The book skips around slightly - from the time of the Rosenberg's trial and execution - back to present day woes and adventures of Millie. It's done subtly and sparingly, so this doesn't get annoying or confusing.
Jillian Cantor's writing style is wonderful. She is able to portray the motivations and personalities of all well, even though it's a first person POV. Millie is made sympathetic, where the author paints a picture of a struggling young woman trying to adapt to a world that isn't always friendly.
Overall the story isn't so much about the Rosenbergs - it's about love, motherhood, women banding together for their families, trusting the wrong people, and how fear molds horrors in our society. There's some surprises along the way, things that keep a reader turning the page, but overall it's a character painting that holds true.
I know little about the Rosenbergs and that time period, it's not something I've researched much. The author goes in with her view that Ethel was likely innocent, and backs this up with some research at the end showing why she feels this way. Whether she's right or not, this wouldn't surprise me, as fear has painted many shadows over the innocent before.
Thanks to Penguin's First to Read program for an ARC of this stunning book.