The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a nonfiction novel in a long time and I don’t think I have ever blogged about it. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to broaden my reading range. I’m so glad that I chose to read this book because it was such a fantastic experience. Here is my review:

As World War I took its tool, hundreds of young women were employed at radium-dial factories to paint clock faces with a new miracle substance: radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was completely safe, the women used the “lip-painting” technique to do their job, happily surprised to find themselves glowing from head to toe by the dust that collected after a day’s work. With such a coveted job, these girls were considered to be the luckiest of all – until they all began to fall ill. As the radium poisoned their bodies, they found themselves battling not just their physical ailments but the working industry themselves in one of America’s biggest scandals.

I never expected a nonfiction novel to be so moving and gripping. I could not read this novel in one sitting; I had to take multiple pauses because it was just so emotional. I didn’t know much about this topic before I began reading. I had just thought that this was an interesting event that involved radium, a substance I’m familiar with through my course work. I got so much more than that through this book. The author creates a vivid story that looks at the lives of all of these women, full of their hopes and dreams and despairs. It shows all of the different people involved that either hindered or aided in justice being meted out. There was so much courage and strength portrayed here and the author made the reader care about every single woman mentioned in the story; they weren’t just names but real people that I could connect with. While the novel was definitely more in favor of the women than the radium companies (which totally makes sense!), I was happy to see that the author did take into account the reasons why the companies did what they did; it didn’t make me sympathetic to them on any account but it did make an attempt to give a more well-rounded picture of the scandal. This was a gripping story where I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how the women would get past each obstacle thrown in their way. The best thing about this story was the message of perseverance and hope and bravery that these women showed in every facet of their lives; they may have been dying but they wouldn’t give up on living and fighting. It made me feel so proud to see all that they accomplished even after facing such adversity. I can honestly say that I have never felt this emotionally invested in a novel before. What an amazing story and the author did such a brilliant job of making it relevant and appealing to the masses. This is definitely a nonfiction book you don’t want to miss out on!

Happy reading ~

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Where have I been this whole time? Unfortunately, I have had too many midterms piling up and haven’t been able to devote any time to reading. Based on my course work, it seems like that’s how it’s going to be for a while. But I’ll try to sneak in a book here and there, especially once I’m done doing my readings for my course work. Anyways, this novel that I finished reading is based on the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” – but of course, it is extremely different and definitely has more depth to it than the original story!

From the age of twelve, Rachelle has been an apprentice to her aunt as a woodwife in order to protect her village from the Great Forest and the its inhabitants.But when she turns fifteen, she doe something reckless that will change her life forever – she steps off of the forest path and into the heart of darkness. Her actions force her to make a difficult decision that binds her to the very evil she swore to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle is in the service of the royal family, protecting the realm from invasion of the forestborn creatures. When she is ordered to guard the King’s son, Armand, she is none too pleased, especially since she is on the search for the legendary sword that could save everyone from the power of the Great Forest. But will she be able to find it in time? Or will she finally succumb to the darkness?

I quite enjoyed the novel. It definitely transformed the story of Little Red Riding Hood and made it into something darker and magical. Rachelle as a character was very unique; she showed herself as being both emotional and devoid of emotion in all of the right situations. The one criticism I had was that it sometimes felt like parts of the story were not explained as well as they could have been. The introduction of the concept of the forestborn and the power of the Great Forest was lacking and it made it a bit confusing to read at first. It was all put together well by the middle but it would have been nice to have had a bit more background information from the get-go. As a whole, this was a pretty good novel and I would recommend it to teens who like fantasy and twisted fairy tales!

Happy reading ~