2017 Books · april2017reading

The Radium Girls

Radium

Y’all.  This beautiful book caused my jaw to drop no less than ten times as I was reading it, and then at the end, I was curled in the fetal position sobbing like a baby.  (That may be a slight exaggeration but seriously, I was crying pretty hard.)  I knew nothing about this when I picked up the book.  I heard about it on two different podcasts and thought it sounded interesting so I requested an advance copy from NetGalley.  This is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read.  It focuses on hundreds of women who were dial painters in the early 1900s and used radium in the paint.  They were told it was completely safe and even good for them, only to be exposed to significant amounts of radioactivity that caused horrific deaths for most of them.  They literally put radium in their mouths.  What these women went through was pretty unbelievable and yet their employers denied for decades that they did anything to cause their symptoms.  I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

What I Liked: It is meticulously researched yet it reads like a novel; it is incredibly interesting; there is a section on a husband and wife that is the most heartbreaking picture of love and devotion I may have ever read; and I’m happy to know an important part of history that I didn’t previously.

What I Didn’t Like: Some of the description of what the girls went through was graphic and disturbing to read but it really needed to be in the book in order to understand it.

5 Stars

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