Saturday, April 29, 2017

shockingly real: the radium girls by kate moore

i'd never heard the story of the radium girls. i didn't know it was a thing. the only radium story i knew was the story of marie curie. when radium was first discovered it was thought to be a miracle element. it's glowing aspect was something alluring. and the discovery that it could shrink tumors is the basis of some of today's cancer treatments. however during world war i and into the 1920s, radium was used in all sorts of manners and the impact of those uses destroyed the lives of many—including the bright, young, hard-working women that are the heart of this story.

what makes this narrative so compelling is the amount of research and attention to detail moore put into bringing the girls to life. they are the heart of the story. they are the ones who suffer most acutely. they are the ones who are screwed over time and time again by big business and money and politics.

the description of their suffering is so vivid at times, you'd think you were watching a horror movie. dying of radium poisoning is not a walk in the park. the amount of suffering, the length of time, the death sentence—because there is no cure—it is unimaginable what these girls endured. and yet moore takes us on their journey from the beginning—from the excitement of being a dial painter and the glory of being one of these luminous girls—to the at time sudden, at times slow, deterioration of health—to the resulting medical treatments and investigations—to the court battles—to the lives cut short and the legacy they left behind.

moore spins a fascinating story, once you pick it up it is impossible to put down. it's a story worth reading, if only to see how long women have been battling for respect and consideration in the workplace. those girls were considered expendable by many, but their suffering was so great that it became an impetus for change and because they refused to be silenced they were able to get some justice, even if it was too late to save their lives.

**the radium girls published on april 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/sourcebooks in exchange for my honest review.

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