Megan E. Bryant
Albert Whitman and Company
September 1, 2017
Blurb: 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?
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
Earlier this year you may have heard about The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women about the women who worked in radium-dial factories. While I haven’t yet gotten around to reading that non-fiction account, I was intrigued by their story and when I was invited to read Glow by Megan E. Bryant, a fictionalized account of women working in a radium-dial factory, I gladly accepted.
Glow is one-half contemporary young adult novel and one-half historical, epistolary, young adult novel. It is eye-opening to see the lifestyles of two women of the same age, but different times, juxtaposed. In one instance, you have a young woman, Lydia, whose love is fighting in the trenches in World War I, working at a factory for a decent wage to help support her family, slowly coming to terms that the fascinating paint she uses could be deadly while another, Julie, works to save for college at McDonald’s where the danger is smelling like grease after work.
Lydia’s story is engrossing (it must be; I started Glow around 9 pm and finished at am, unwilling to set the book aside). She is a decent young woman whose boyfriend has just left for the war and she’s despondent until her older sister, Liza, drags her, pretty much literally, to the factory where she works when there is an opening, after a young woman gets sick. Because the pay is so good, Lydia is happy to work there. She also is intrigued by the glowing paint because it seems to beautiful.
However, as time passes and the young woman who was sick, dies, and Liza becomes ill, Lydia begins to suspect things may not be all that they seem.
Julie’s story is not quite as fascinating, but only because it feels like most contemporary young adult novels, except that Bryant has not glossed over Julie’s interactions or those around her. Julie and her friend, Lauren, act like modern teenagers with pettiness sometimes rearing its head, blended with jealousy and impatience.
Glow delves into how people communicate and how they sometimes don’t. Lydia and her sisters often miscommunicate and have hurt feelings as a result. Likewise, Julie and Lauren and Julie’s mom miscommunicate with the same result. Maybe times haven’t changed too extensively.
Bryant doesn’t shy away from discussing science in Glow. For me, a caped, crusading tech writer/editor during the day, this was not an issue; it felt like science-light to me. Some who dislike science might find it grueling while I was intrigued. Also, Bryant doesn’t shy away from discussing the sometimes gruesome details of radiation poisoning, which made the story of the girls working in the factory so very sad, especially when some men were more concerned with covering up the possibility of sickness rather than helping.
Lastly, there is some beautiful writing in Glow, especially passages near the end where Julie contemplates her future, having been enlightened by all of the events she experienced.
I highly recommend Glow, especially for those of you who are intrigued by science and this dark passage in the aftermath of the discovery of radium when it was thought it would be the cure to cancer and other health problems. Even as I write these last words, I think of more I’d like to share with you, but then I could be discussing Glow all day and you’d never have a chance to read it.
From Amazon: Glow
5 out of 5 butterflies
About the Megan E. Bryant:
I‘ve counted books among my friends for as long as I can remember. I was born in Santa Monica, California, though that beautiful city is just one of many places I’ve called home; my family moved ten times before I graduated from high school. Moving so frequently gave me many opportunities to experience new places, meet new people, and make new friends . . . but it could be lonely, too, especially while I adjusted to a new town or school. When I felt homesick for people and places far away, I knew that I could always turn to my books, familiar friends who traveled everywhere I did. Reading so much inspired me to write my own stories and poems, on topics ranging from birds and snowflakes to castles and talking pasta (really!).
Looking back, all that reading and writing was the perfect preparation for my dream job: writing for children and young adults. I moved to New York City for college and after graduating from New York University with a degree in Dramatic Literature, I worked as a children’s book editor for five years.
Another move—this time with my husband—led me to close my eyes, hold my breath, and take the leap to become a full-time writer. It was the best decision I ever could’ve made.
I’ve lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for five years (that’s almost a record for me) with my family, and I thank my lucky stars every day for the good fortune to write for kids and teens.
When I’m not writing, I’m . . .
- Knitting obsessively, just like my grandmother did (if there’s a knitting gene, I got it from her)
- Drinking another pot of tea
- Doodling on a 3 x 5 index card
- Attempting to decipher the cryptic Post-It notes stuck to my desk
- Reading voraciously, especially nonfiction or current events
- Cooking vegetarian food (or, more likely, making dessert)
- Trying to save my garden from a fearless band of marauding squirrels
- Cuddling with my cat and wrestling with my dog
- Covering my kids with kisses