I read this as part of an armchair chemistry class. I loved it and found it interesting all the things the girls did with the radium before we knew th...moreI read this as part of an armchair chemistry class. I loved it and found it interesting all the things the girls did with the radium before we knew the side effects as well as what happened to them afterwards. I'm writing this review almost 4 years after the fact, so I don't have many details to review.(less)
I read this book on my Kindle last weekend when I was on some long flights and waiting in airports. A few years ago I read a book called Radium Girls...moreI read this book on my Kindle last weekend when I was on some long flights and waiting in airports. A few years ago I read a book called Radium Girls by Claudia Clark for a chemistry class in college. Since I enjoyed learning through that book, this book, which is a work of fiction, sounded right up my alley.
Radium Halos is about a woman named Helen. Helen is now an older woman who lives in a mental institution, but she was one of the Radium Dial girls for a summer when she was 16-years-old. The book switches back and forth between telling the story of Helen as she worked in the factory (which was really an old school building) and her present day in the mental hospital and so on. The switches in time periods were a bit too subtle at times and made the story confusing and not flow (as I had to readjust my thoughts to what year the story was).
Helen worked in the factory with her sister and told the story of how they got there (by not telling the whole truth to their single parent father), the friends they made, and the adventures they had that summer before they returned home. In the present time period for Helen, she is being released from the mental hospital into the care of her niece (whom Helen raised after her sister passed away at a young age). Her niece is getting married soon and doesn't have a whole lot of time or patience for Helen, so that makes for some interesting situations as well.
The overall story sounds believable. Helen's narration thoughout has poor grammar throughout, which gives a bit more of an authentic feel to the girl who grew up in the 1910s-1920s and lived in the south. The choices and feelings of the girls and then Helen as an adult also seem authentic.
Overall it was a good read and can give some insightful information not only about the girls who worked in the Radium Dial factory, but about people who have been institutionalized without being boring and filled with just facts. The book didn't strike me as completely amazing, hence the 4/5 stars. I just didn't feel as emotionally vested in the characters as I could have been. Even the epilogue didn't give me as much information to wrap it all up as I had hoped.(less)
I read this a couple of years for an armchair chemistry class. I loved it. A great quick read that told the boy's story and kind of makes you scared o...moreI read this a couple of years for an armchair chemistry class. I loved it. A great quick read that told the boy's story and kind of makes you scared of what chemicals and elements were available in raw form back then. (less)