Title: The Radium Girls: Young Readers’ Edition: The Scary but True Story of the Poison that Made People Glow in the Dark
Author: Kate Moore
Synopsis: 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. (From the adult edition)
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!
I have been enjoying Young Reader’s editions of books as of late, if only because I am curious as to how an author transplants their content for a different age group. Radium Girls by Kate Moore was a very important and difficult book when it released in 2017, and I won’t lie when I was confused to have received a copy of a Young Readers edition for it in my mailbox. I never had the chance to read the original book, so I gave this version a go.
This is an amazing work on non-fiction that looks at the dial painters, all who were infected with radium, and were slowly transforming or dying because of it. It looks at the work conditions the women faced, as well as the court cases. Many of the women in this book died at very young ages due to radium poisoning, and it took many years later for legal action to have occurred. This YRE does an amazing job of telling the story of these women without dumbing it down or talking down at the reader. The language is very clear and direct, while also evoking a lot of empathy for women who lost their lives.
This book is gripping from the first page, and what happened to these women is horrific and unacceptable. The fact that there is still radium clean-up in this day and age in Ottawa, IL is problematic in itself. This book is uncomfortable, dark, and a little scary at times, but the information and the story being told is important and valuable. Definitely check out this book, YRE or otherwise, because the story is out of this world.