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eBook Reviews:

Radium Girls by Kate Moore

(From Moore (Roses Are Red...) details the tragic stories of dozens of young women employed as dial painters during World War I. Often the daughters of immigrants, these women were lured to these prestigious and well-paying jobs unaware of the dangers of the radioactive paint present in their workplace--which caused their bodies and clothes to glow, even outside of work. With America's entry into World War I, demand for painted dials and painters skyrocketed. Soon, many employees suffered aching teeth and jaws, sore joints, and sarcomas. As their ailments worsened, many sought answers from their employers. They were met with denials and misinformation even as evidence mounted that radium poisoned these women. After nearly 20 years, several trials, and thousands of dollars in doctor and attorney fees, the women won a small measure of justice, but for some, it was too late. Moore's well-researched narrative is written with clarity and a sympathetic voice that brings these figures and their struggles to life. VERDICT A must-read for anyone interested in American and women's history, as well as topics of law, health, and industrial safety.--Chad E. Statler, Lakeland Comm. Coll., Kirtland, OH

Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

(From Gr 8 Up-With a limited support system, Gem is adrift. Her father left years ago, and her mother barely acknowledges her. Gem has always felt intensely protective of her younger sister, Dixie, but now that the girls are in high school, things are different. Pretty, popular Dixie wants little to do with awkward and angsty Gem. When the girls' father returns, however, their already precarious life is upended, sending the teens on a journey that will change them both forever. Writing in a terse, almost brusque manner, Zarr adeptly brings to life a protagonist grappling with anger, loneliness, and rejection. The siblings' relationship is authentically nuanced: Gem's love for her sister is balanced with her resentment of Dixie, who easily garners attention and appears to have a better relationship with their parents. The plot is secondary to the rich portrayal of the characters' internal lives and depiction of a dysfunctional family engaged in more subtle forms of mistreatment. Neither Gem nor Dixie is physically abused, but their parents' neglectful, manipulative behavior and struggles with drug addiction have left their mark on both girls. While some readers may find that the book wraps up loose ends too neatly, others will welcome the optimistic conclusion. VERDICT A thoughtful work that will resonate with Zarr's many fans and those who appreciate contemplative, character-driven novels.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

(From Landay does the seemingly impossible by coming up with a new wrinkle in the crowded subgenre of courtroom thrillers. Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber is called to a gruesome crime scene after Ben Rifkin, a 14-year-old boy, has been brutally stabbed in a city park. One suspect seems likely, a pedophile who lives nearby and is known to frequent the park, but suspicion turns quickly to another, much more unlikely, suspect--Andy's son Jacob, one of Ben's classmates. It seems Ben is not the paragon of virtue he is made out to be, for he's got a mean streak and has been harassing Jacob...but is this a sufficient motive for a 14-year-old to commit murder? Some of Jacob's fellow students post messages on Facebook suggesting he's guilty of the crime, and Jacob also admits to having shown a "cool" knife to his friends. When Andy finds the knife, he quickly disposes of it, but even he's not sure if he does this because he suspects his son is innocent or because he suspects his son is guilty. Complicating the family dynamic is Laurie, Jacob's mother, who's at least half convinced that her son might indeed be capable of such a heinous act--and it turns out Andy has concealed his own past from Laurie because both his father and grandfather have been murderers, and he fears he may have both inherited and passed down to Jacob a gene associated with aggressive behavior in males. Landay is yet another lawyer-turned-writer, and it's inevitable that he'll be compared to Scott Turow, but this novel succeeds on its own merits.


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