This is hard to write because there are already so many great Cannonball reviews about this book. So, I will just start by saying – You need to read this book! This story should be taught in every school. I was amazed that I had never heard of the Radium Women, and now I will never forget them.
During WWI, women were hired to paint dials on watches using a brilliant new material – paint infused with radium. This paint mixture was lauded for its ability to glow in the dark, but the health ramifications of the lip pointing done to ensure a fine brush tip was anything but shiny. Unfortunately, for the women working in these factories, the side effects of radium poisoning took years to develop. All the while, radium was heralded as the hot, new cure-all, and the women were considered lucky to be ingesting the “medicinal” paint. I’m going to leave out the gory details for the squeamish. For that, I will direct you to the book for the finer details. While the side effects of radium poisoning are hard to stomach, it is vitally important that the women’s stories are known. While they may be difficult to take in, one can only imagine the helplessness and fear of actually living through these horrors.
Throughout my life, I’ve visited Ottawa, Illinois – the site of one of the radium dial factories – regularly to see family. I look forward to my next trip, as I intend to take my family to the statue honoring these brave young women.