Book Reviews

Book Review – Let it destroy you by Harriet Alida Lye

During my last couple of years in secondary school, I had moments when I thought I’d end up being a scientist of some sort. I ended up studying medicine & while I’m not a physicist or scientist, I enjoy reading about the invention of things. I find it fascinating how people can create something out of ‘nothing’, and how ridiculous their ideas must have sounded at the time to those around them. This is one of the reasons why I was drawn to the book “Let It Destroy You”, which is inspired by the life of a physicist, Leó Szilárd and the letters he wrote his wife.

Published on June 6, 2023

Publisher – McClelland & Stewart

Pages – 235

Format Read – Paperback


“ It is August 12, 1945. Tomorrow, August Snow will be tried at the International War Crimes Court for patenting a more lethal variation on the atomic bomb. He invented a radiation machine to cure his young daughter’s cancer, despite knowing that the very same technology was capable of great destruction, and inevitably profited from disaster. But are his intentions relevant when the fate of the world is at stake? August’s former wife, June will also attend the hearing. Restless in her Hague hotel room the night before, she keeps watch over their daughter and reflects on the events that brought them here. She had nothing to do with making the bomb. But is she innocent? Wouldn’t any wife and mother have done the same thing in her shoes ? And now, will it cost her everything ?”

My thoughts

I found the premise of this book really interesting, so it came as no surprise that I finished reading it in just a few days. While the book is only about 235 pages long, I should warn you that the pace does not pick up until about 100 pages in. So, you need to be a patient reader for this one.

“Let it Destroy You” is a story about a man, August who created a lethal form of the atomic bomb in an attempt to save his daughter’s life. His decision resulted in mass destruction, and he is now being held accountable by the International War Crimes Court for patenting this bomb. While we don’t eventually know how it ends – if he’s found guilty or not, we are taken on a reflective journey of the events and decisions that led up to this moment. With both August & June’s POV, the author explores motherhood, love, science, discrimination, humanity and morality.

The book is mostly written as a reflective piece, with very little dialogue and much like the human mind, jumping from one incident to another and centres around a simple but profound question: What length would a parent go to for their child? I particularly enjoyed the passages on motherhood. The writing is tender, honest, and raw.


I had mixed feelings about this book and ultimately gave it 3 stars. Although I appreciated the author’s intentions, I found the first 100 pages to be a bit of a struggle, and I didn’t connect with the main character.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Find what you love, and let it destroy you.

PG 232 – let it destroy you by Harriet alida lye

Thank you to Random Penguin House Canada for sending this copy my way.

You’ll like this if you like;

  • Books with Reflective/Prose heavy style of writing
  • Books with dual POVs
  • Books heavy on physics and the technicalities of it.
  • Books on Morality

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