This is an interesting novel. It weaves back and forth, between the past and the present. There are paintings which connect the young woman who found one of the paintings in a thrift store, to the unknown painter from the past. It's a mystery the present day woman is eager to solve.
This novel also discusses with the working conditions that the "radium girls" experienced. It was a horrifying experience given the number of women who died from radium exposure. No one knew at that time how dangerous radium actually was. Marie Curie herself died of exposure to radioactive ores which caused aplastic anemia (or possibly leukemia).
Earlier this year, I had a chance to read Kate Moore's The Radium Girls, a haunting story of the young women who suffered painful radioactive poisoning from painting glow in the dark watch faces with radium-based paint. It's a piece that has stuck with me, and here is a fictional treatment of the topic that also immediately hooked me. Told in two narratives, one of a contemporary teenage girl, Julie, who finds eerie paintings with glow-in-the-dark secrets, and one in the wartime letters of Lydia, one of the Radium Girls, to her sweetheart, this story is part contemporary novel, part mystery, and part historical novel, a combination that works surprisingly well. The wartime letters, told in first-person point of view, grant an immediacy and terror to the narrative, particularly if readers already know the horror that awaits the characters. The contemporary timeline is also engaging, though, and many readers will sympathize with Julie, who's down on her luck after deferring college because of family financial strains. The story wrapped up a bit neatly for my tastes, but it was overall an engaging, satisfying, haunting read.
ElspethG thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over
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