The Radium Girls
Radium Girls:The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
Author: Kate Moore
Published: May 2, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 11-26, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Book Description from Amazon:
The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger
The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…
I had never heard of the story of the Radium Girls until I found out about the book. Then I HAD to read it! This is a very sad story, and it is hard to believe this actually happened to so many girls. Reading Kate Moore’s words about how she found out about this story and the fact that she is British stands out to me. She felt it was a story she needed to tell and she delivered!
**As this happened in the past and anything can be researched I don’t feel like any of what I am going to say in this review is a spoiler.
We get to know each of the girls featured and their lives. We also get to know the extreme pain and anguish they went through from suffering from the radium poisoning. Moore graphically depicts the way the girls suffer. As I was reading, I wanted to tell them to stop the ‘lip, dip, paint’ that they were instructed to do! They continued as they were told the radium was safe. They were even excited to see the radium on themselves as they left work and ‘glowed in the dark’. They even went dancing while the radium was on them. Yes, the girls were naïve, but it was not their fault: They were young (some barely teenagers), impressionable and excited to get the highly sought after job of becoming a “Radium Girl”.
The villains are the companies and they are despicable as they knew radium was dangerous and they kept this fact a secret from the girls. They did not care about the girls, it was just about making a dollar. The Radium Girls is a very hard book to read. It was not just the girls who were affected, but their families as well with the high medical bills.
The girls’ story continues as some go to court and fight a hard fought battle. Their battle ended with changes to laws and more safeguards in the workplace for employees.
Kate Moore worked tirelessly to bring us this narrative non-fiction journey. Everything in the book is real, but written in this way you don’t ever want to put The Radium Girls down! It is well researched and she traveled all over the US learning about these girls and their lives.
Ms. Moore, you have made the Radium Girls proud by sharing their personal story with us.
There is a site dedicated to the novel and the Radium Girls. Do check it out, it’s the least we can do.
Special thanks to NetGalley for granting me a copy. The Radium Girls is recommended.