The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
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…
Radium Girls was the perfect book to start off the new year! It reminded me why I committed to reading more non-fiction this year. It was gut-wrenching and very difficult to read a some points, but it is also a story that needs to be told. I appreciate that Kate Moore gave the Radium Girls a voice and we learned who they were as people beyond this horrible thing that happened to them. They all showed their strength in different ways, and their sacrifices may have saved the lives of many! It is a truly powerful story that I do not believe many people know about. Their feats are especially impressive considering that women were not treated as equal in the 1920’s and 30’s and it would have been very difficult for them to have their voices heard. They did not want vengeance; they just wanted justice!
It is evident that Kate Moore put a lot of research in to this book and interviewed the families and those know knew the Radium Girls. It made the story feel more personal and only added to my outrage in how they were treated. This will not be a book for the faint of heart. These women suffered and Moore does not hold back in sharing the details. It was a book that I had to take my time with because I felt myself becoming overwhelmed by the knowledge of what these women endured. It is hard to even imagine and will keep you up at night.
Radium Girls brought me to tears on many occasions. I felt a connection to each and everyone one of the radium girls. Their strength and resilience make me proud to be a women! I am happy that I now know the names Katherine Schaub, Gracy Fryer, Mollie Maggia, Catherine Donoghue, Pearl Payne, etc. I will think of them often.