Source: From Netgalley and Albert Whitman & Company in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: March 6, 2018 (first Sept 1, 2017)
Lydia is thrilled to join the working girls in the factory, where they paint luminous watch dials for the soldiers fighting in World War I. In the future, these girls will be known as the tragic Radium Girls: factory workers not only poisoned by the glowing paint, but who also had to fight against men who knew of the paint's deadly effect. One hundred years later, Julie, whose life is on hold after high school, becomes intrigued by a series of mysterious antique paintings she finds in a thrift store. When she discovers their hidden-and increasingly nightmarish-glowing images, Julie is determined to learn more about them. As Julie's obsession mounts, truths about the Radium Girls-and her own complicated relationships-are revealed. Can she uncover the secrets behind the paintings before she puts herself and everyone she loves at risk?
When I was offered this book for review I was very interested in the synopsis - the Radium Girls are not something I was overly familiar with but wanted to learn a bit more. This is a fictional story about a girl named Julie, that is going through some things in her life, she finds a painting and realizes that it glows in the dark. She makes it her summer mission to figure out how and why it does this.
The author uses Julie's story alternating with letters from a young girl in 1918 to portray both the present tale and the past in some detail. While Julie is uncovering the mystery of the paintings in her story, the reader is also learning about girls working in a Radium factory painting dials on watch faces for men at war.
I wasn't the biggest fan of Julie throughout the story - I was more interested with her leading me through the paintings and how she was finding them and trying to recreate them. I really loved reading the letters from Lydia in 1918 to her war hero Walter. They were interesting and it is where I learned about the Radium factory and what they did there. The author even has a note at the end of the book talking about the actual Radium Girls and how this story differs from the history but it was all very intriguing.
I really, really enjoyed this book for the brushes with history and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something like this. It was still fiction but very good. It is also a coming of age story and in Julie's tale there is a lot of life lessons that come out of her locating the paintings. It was a quick read because I was so enthralled with it all.