Carol's Reviews > Radium Halos: A Novel about the Radium Dial Painters

Radium Halos by Shelley Stout
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's review
Nov 03, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, historical-fiction, kindle-books
Read from April 04 to 06, 2012

Radium Halos: A Novel about the Radium Dial Painters by Shelly Stout made me lay aside another book that I was reading at the same time. It was a strange reading experience for me, this is a page turner but I had trouble connecting with the main characters. I wanted to know what is going to happen next!

This is a fictional story of real situation in United States. Women really did paint numbers on the faces of clocks and watches with paint that had radium in it. Later, there were lawsuits won and the company had to pay damages.

In this book, the instructor told the trainees to actually put the brush in their mouths between their teeth to "kiss it" and get a better pointed tip for the painting. This part of this e-book is very chilling when you consider that they were practicing with poison!

They were evaluated on their skill levels and promoted from watches to clock faces if they were good enough.

The narrator, Helen was living in a mental institution at the opening of the story. She was only sixteen when she and her older sister decided to work for the Radium Dial Company. They got paid by the piece and the pay was much more than what they could ordinarily get.

Helen relates the effects of the radium exposure on herself, her sister Violet and other women who worked there. There is a side story that explains why Helen and her friends were afraid to talk to the investigators. That side story was vividly told and made sense as to why they didn’t complain about their physical problems which were many. The story has flashbacks to the past which are transitioned expertly.

So this is book worth reading but I don’t feel like I would reread it due to the lack of connection to the characters.


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