I have been on a kick where I listen to books on tape while driving to and from work. I try to pick something that I don’t know much about, may it be educational, faith-based, or just for fun. I decided, after listening to way too many self-help books, that I wanted to listen to something Real, but also entertaining. I decided to listen to The Radium Girls. Not only is this book based on true events, they are also events that I did not know anything about.
The Radium Girls was written by Kate Moore. Moore was not an enthusiasts of radium or radium poisoning, but came across the subject almost by mistake and continued to research more and more about the subject. She realized that there wasn’t a story told about the individual women of radium. So she wrote about them.
Moore based The Radium Girls on the women of the factories who painted radium illuminated paint onto watches. Not only did these women put themselves in danger by just being around radium, but they also accidentally ingested the substance by their “lip and point” technique of painting, where they would put the paint brush into their mouths to point the brush, creating cleaner lines on the watches. However, at that time, they did not know that the substance was poisonous and deadly.
I am not going to give more details about the story line, you’ll have to go listen or read the book yourself.
While listening to this book, I realized quickly that I would not be able to finish listening on my first loan from the library. I use an app called Overdrive. It links to my local library and I can download books and audio books for one or two weeks at a time before I have to “un-download” the book from my app. I usually borrow for only one week, but after getting into The Radium Girls (which is over 10 hours of recorded reading), I realized that it would take longer than one week. I had to wait two weeks between check-outs because someone had wait-listed the book when I had it borrowed.
Usually if I don’t finish an audio book I don’t re-download it and just forget about it. But this book kept in my mind for quite some time. Since it was a recurring thought, I knew that I had to borrow it again. I’m not sure why this book stuck with me. I think it’s because I am the type of person who helps people and I want the best for everyone. In the book, the whole premise of the companies goes against helping people.
Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. It was slow at some times, but overall, it was entertaining and educational to the point that I just wanted to learn more! One of my favorite parts of this book was the small stories of the individual women’s lives. Some women did not discover that they had been poisoned by the radium until years after leaving the companies they worked for, some went through multiple surgeries before learning it was radium that caused them issues, and some never knew what caused them so much pain, and died without knowing the truth. Their individual stories were so incredible. I could not imagine living the lives of some of these brave women, especially the women who went to court to fight for their rights. Incredible.
All I can say is: Read it! Listen to it! And learn something about our history that isn’t taught in school, that is hidden from our history, and should be taught to all.