Friday, August 24, 2018

Nonfiction Mini-Reviews


Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II by Liza Mundy (2017)

I have been looking forward to this book for awhile; not only did I want to learn more about women's efforts during World War II, but because of the secret nature of their work, the story of the code breakers who worked for the Army and Navy in the 1940s had actually never been released before.  I was impressed at the sheer number of women who joined the war effort at the government level, especially those who were specifically recruited.  They did amazing work that helped shorten the war and save lives, and they have never really been recognized for their contributions.  However, as interesting as the subject matter was, I had a lot of trouble with this book.  In the early chapters, the story kept skipping back and forth in time, which just left me confused as to when things were actually happening.  There were a LOT of people introduced, some for just a brief time.  The author included information on what codes and ciphers are and how they are broken, and I enjoyed those parts of the book, although to be honest most it went way over my head.  The book felt very wordy and the paragraphs were so long; I unfortunately found myself skimming a lot.  3 stars


The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore (2017)

Starting during WWI and going through the 1920s and 1930s, women in New Jersey and Illinois were hired by companies to paint watch faces with luminous paint riddled with radium.  Assured there were no risks, the women touched the paint, ate around it, and, worst of all, put the paintbrushes in their mouths.  As the women started to get horrifically ill, they finally realized what was happening and started to take legal action.

I didn't realize that a couple of these factories were located in my home state of New Jersey, so right there I felt a connection to these women.  Reading about the physical side effects the radium caused was sickening - it ate away at their bodies, ruined their teeth and jaws, caused their legs to shorten and massive tumors to grow.  It took awhile for doctors to make the connection between their jobs and their illnesses, but even after, these poor women were still in for a huge fight.  The companies they worked for used every tactic they could to get out of paying what the women deserved - hiding medical records, moving their assets to different states, and utilizing legal technicalities to get their cases dismissed.  So many deaths, so many lives ruined - yet many of the women wouldn't stop fighting.

I didn't know about this story before I started reading, and I just flew through this book, wanting to know if the women would get justice.  I loved the way the author incorporated the women's own words; although a lot of people were introduced, it never felt overwhelming.  This is nonfiction at its best.  5 stars

20 comments:

  1. I have The Radium Girls and now I need to move that one up for sure. Sounds really good.

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  2. Lovely reviews. If you had put these books in front of me I would have said that Code Girls looked better! Radium Girls just sounds so horrific I'm not sure I could read it, knowing that it's non-fiction, you know? Isn't it strange how we can read the most awful things as fiction and be okay, but knowing that something ACTUALLY happened can have so much more impact. My skin is kind of crawling even thinking about these poor women!

    Again, great reviews!

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    1. Thanks, Di! I know, it was really hard to read some parts of Radium Girls, but it was such an important story!

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  3. I feel the same way about these books. Parts of Code Girls were super interesting, but I felt I really struggled through the book. The Radium Girls was really incredible and I have recommended it to so many people!

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    1. It is definitely one I would recommend to others, too!

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  4. Great reviews. I'm putting Radium Girls on my list. It sounds perfect for Nonfiction November!

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  5. I’m glad you liked Radium Girls! I already know the basic story, but I still really want to read the book.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. Radium Girls sounds really interesting! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and too bad about Code Girls. I think I'd be confused by the time jumps too.

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  7. That's a shame that Code Girls wasn't better. I had high hopes for that one. Radium Girls sounds fantastic though. I'm going to have to pick up a copy of that one!

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    1. I really wanted to like Code Girls! Hope you enjoy Radium Girls!

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  8. I NEED to get to The Radium Girls!!!

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  9. Aw, sorry to hear that about Code Girls. The Radium Girls though sounds fabulous!

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  10. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy Code Girls as much! I also loved Radium Girls and found it to be a page-turner. The author did a really good job writing an engaging story, despite the tough topic.

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    1. I agree! Some of it was really hard to read about, those poor women, but such an important story!

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I'm so glad you stopped by, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Comments are always greatly appreciated!