Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
It’s not very often that I hand out 5 stars, but this book deserves every single one. The Radium Girls are the young women exposed to radium while painting luminescent numbers on clock faces. Little did they know that they were being poisoned using their lip/dip/paint technique. Using their lips to create a fine point in the paint brush hairs, they were ingesting minute amounts of radium.
The author said “I wanted to showcase their shining spirits in a book that would tell their story – not just the story of the famous professionals who had helped them.” She did so by creating a powerful story told from the women’s perspective, and she did a wonderful job of researching, piecing together diaries, letters and interviews into a heartbreaking tale of inner strength, courage and friendship. Once the women began to become ill, they stood by each other and worried more about each other than themselves. What made it all the more poignant was that they were so young, just getting married and having children, when their radium poisoning symptoms started. I cannot imagine living with the immense pain these women endured.
Just as powerful is the injustice of the men who thought so little of these women. They encouraged the women to continue their dangerous work by lying to them and telling them it was safe work, even good for them. Even after their teeth started to fall out, their jawbones were removed, sarcomas appeared, brittle bones broke easily, and women were dying. How did they live with themselves? Their greed made them lie to these women and do everything in their power to ensure they wouldn’t be compensated a dime. Yet these women found strength in numbers and stood up to their previous employer and the company’s doctors and lawyers. They stood together to fight for justice, and did it for each other. These are women I would have loved to have known.
This is an incredible tale, and I can’t given it any higher recommendation!