Idea for a novel: Monica Riley – Seymour Tribune

Last name: Monica Riley

Job title: Collections Development Manager for the Jackson County Public Library

What is the name of the book and author you recommend?

“The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women” by Kate Moore and read by Angela Brazil

What made you want to get this book in the first place?

Moore released a book earlier this year that I thought was pretty popular, and I thought “The Radium Girls” had been pretty popular in the past as well. I was looking for a non-fiction book, so I tried this one.

Once you got into the book, what made you want to keep reading it?

I wanted to know when and how it was discovered what happened to women. I was also interested to know if employers of women were rewarded for their dishonesty and their treatment of women.

When you finished the book, what did you enjoy?

I liked that the book was written in chronological order, even though that meant the author had to alternate between people and places. There was also a bomb or two that I really enjoyed. Listening to the book, I thought it would make a good movie. I could even see scenes in my head already.

What is the book about?

From or before World War I, a few companies in the United States used paint containing radium to paint watch faces to shine. This painting was done by hand, mostly by teenage girls and young women. After a while, many of these women began to have health problems from radium poisoning. The book describes the deterioration of women’s health over the years as well as the attempts of doctors, dentists and others to discover the cause of health problems. After it was finally determined that the radium was to blame, several of the women involved attempted to seek compensation from their employers, but between denial of responsibility and greed it proved difficult. The women therefore took legal action against their former employers. While many lawyers were unwilling to take on the women’s cases, a few talented and dedicated lawyers did. Women and lawyers were determined to hold employers accountable for their actions.

Why would you recommend this book to others?

Even though it is not fiction, it is written like a story, so it may still appeal to fiction readers. After completing it, readers would be more enlightened about the history of worker protection and hopefully appreciate these women and the professionals who helped them.

Irene B. Bowles