Author: Megan E. Bryant
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Published Date: September 1st 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction,YA
My Rating: ★ ★ ★
When thrift-store aficionado Julie discovers a series of antique paintings with hidden glowing images that are only visible in the dark, she wants to learn more about the artist. In her search, she uncovers a century-old romance and the haunting true story of the Radium Girls, young women who used radioactive paint to make the world's first glow-in-the-dark products—and ultimately became radioactive themselves. As Julie’s obsession with the paintings mounts, truths about the Radium Girls—and her own complicated relationships—are revealed. But will she uncover the truth about the luminous paintings before putting herself and everyone she loves at risk?
Thank you to NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company for an e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
Earlier this year I read Radium Girls by Kate Moore which is a non-fiction book about the woman who painted pocket watches with radium during WWI. So when I saw this YA book also dealt with a radioactive plant, I knew I had to read it.
In Glow, we switch back and forth between Julie and Lydia. Julie is a modern day young women who gave up her college dream in order to help her mother pay off debt, so they don't lose everything. Because of this Julie is sad, and her best friend Lauren who is still going away to college decides that she needs to go on a shopping trip to help lift her spirits. While thrifting Julie finds some paintings that she decides to get. She has no idea what they hold though and once she gets them home she realizes they have a mysterious glow.
Which is when we finally get to meet Lydia a 16-year-old in 1917 who is working at the Radium Dial plant painting watch faces for soldiers. Her big sister also works with her and got her the job in the first place. But when the ladies start getting sick, and her sister is one of them. Lydia does everything in her power to help her get better. All while slowly making things worse because of the lies being told to her. Once she realizes whats really going on, she stops at nothing to save her little sister Charlotte and to make the company pay for what they have done.
Personally, I would have liked more of Lydia's story, or maybe Julie actually working on her own to figure out what happened etc, instead of just trying to recreate the glow herself. Having said that though I did enjoy this book.
Julie's story is one that while realistic, also got rather annoying at times with how she placed the blame for her choices on others instead of choosing to go to a different school while she saved to go to her dream one. I also really disliked how she treated Lauren, I get it you don't have money anymore, but instead of just pouting all the time, find cheap things to do etc., don't just shut your best friend out and then wonder why they don't come around. As you can probably tell I got pretty frustrated with Julie for most of the book. The ending did redeem her a little bit.
Lydia's story is heartbreaking and one that needs to be told and while this novel only touches the surface of the horrors the radium dial painters went through, it's still nice to see it being the focus of a YA novel. The Young women at these plants changed things for everyone in the work force with work safety and compensations if you get hurt on the job, and while most of them never saw anything. They will never be forgotten.