One day a few years ago I was telling a friend about my aunt and she suggested I Google her. Since Lucybelle died in 1966 and was just a farm girl from Arkansas, I didn’t expect to find anything. But I did: two items popped up on the internet. One was an obituary in the Journal of Glaciology. The other was a three-page entry in a new scholarly volume published by Routledge called The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives from Ancient Times to Mid-20th Century.
I was astonished. So was my father. He’d known she was “doing something about ice,” but had no idea she’d been an important player in seminal climate research. In fact, she was part of a team who, in 1966, pulled the first ever ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, resulting in a study that revealed the beginning of climate change. These two online documents told me where she’d worked, and I began contacting and interviewing her coworkers. My research expanded from there into public records and historical records, more interviews and travel to visit the places where she had lived and worked.
-Berkeleyside, “A mystery aunt revealed in Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s new novel,” by Berkeleyside editors, October 14, 2016.
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At the height of the Cold War, Lucybelle Bledsoe is offered a job seemingly too good to pass up. However, there are risks. Her scientific knowledge and editorial skills are unparalleled, but her personal life might not withstand government scrutiny.
Leaving behind the wreckage of a relationship, Lucybelle finds solace in working for the visionary scientist who is extracting the first-ever polar ice cores. The lucidity of ice is calming and beautiful. But the joyful pangs of a new love clash with the impossible compromises of queer life. If exposed, she could lose everything she holds dear.
Based on the hidden life of the author’s aunt and namesake, A Thin Bright Line is a love story set amid Cold War intrigue, the origins of climate research, and the nascent civil rights movement. Poignant, brilliant, and moving, it reminds us to act on what we love, not just wish for it.