I am SO excited to finally get to share this review with all of you! You have no idea how hard it is to keep the amazingness of a story under wraps until closer to the publishing date. Ah! It can be tough being a book blogger…
The beginning of this story we find our very modern narrator Julie bumping into a friend of hers, Lauren. We learn some back story involving Julie giving her Mother her $200,000 savings for college to save their home and that everyone knows that Julie can’t go to college now.
Deciding to hang out with Lauren, Julie finds herself in a thrift store and in awe of a work of art. She purchases the piece and brings it home. Later that night, she notices it is glowing and there is an inscription painted in French.
Then all of a sudden we are taken back to 1917 and reading a letter written from a 16 year old Lydia to her just went to fight in the war sweetie, Walter. This letter tells of how Lydias’ sister just got her a job at the factory and the conversation that led to that position being offered.
Once the letter is completed, we jump back to Julie in modern times and she is ready to go back to that thrift store to purchase the second piece in the set!
Julie is shocked at the imagery that appears when darkness falls. The depiction is not one of love like the first, but of agony and despair. Shocked but even more intrigued, she mentions the findings to her friend and they decide to go to the thrift store and ask the owner where she acquired these works. The girls leave a note for when the gentleman comes in to pick up his consignment earnings.
The technique is hard to place. They figure that the glow must have been painted first then the painting on top, but they can’t figure how there isn’t some type of residue.
A journal by the artist was among the work brought in and Julie purchases that too.
We are then thrown into the past again through letters and discover more about the girl who had the dial painting position before Lydia. She is unable to work and has a festering wound on her face that won’t heal.
The story in present day continues on as a clue is found and followed up on.
Mixing the modern with the classic, this novel weaves through the timelines and story lines brilliantly.
There is a love interest set up for Julie and it’s very sweet without being over the top.
Lydias’ sister begins exhibiting mysterious symptoms after breaking a bone in her leg. Then her teeth start falling out…
I won’t sugarcoat this, there are some truly horrific moments in this one. The details are shockingly sad and difficult to wrap the mind around the fact that this is all based on the true stories of The Radium Girls. The elements are all there and while these characters are fictional; the fall out of the radium poisoning is not.
I am deliberately glossing over some of the story so as not to give everything away, there lots of twists and turns here, but this tale puts characters and emotions to the real life story of The Radium Girls and does so in a way that makes the tale come alive.
It has been a little while since I have read a dual perspective novel like this and it was handled well. Sometimes it isn’t clear where the “jumps” in time occur in novels like this, but thankfully this one did not have that issue.
I will note that I always have liked stories that don’t neatly tie everything up. Life isn’t like that. It’s nice to see that sometimes (depending on the content of course; it isn’t the best when there are huge things left open or plot holes with no promise of a sequel) and I appreciated that here.
Whether or not you are familiar with The Radium Girls story, check this one out for the story itself as it is very well done.
10.0% “Good set up/start here.”
Page Count: 272
Genre: Historical Fiction, Teens & YA
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Expected Publication Date: September 1, 2017