About These Shining Lives by Melanie Marnich
Based on the true story of women who worked in a watch factory in Ottawa, Illinois in the 1920s, this lyrical drama centers around Catherine Donahue and her coworkers and friends. The women find new financial independence in a “lip, dip, and paint routine”: using a glowing radium compound to make hour markings on watch faces. Their vision of freedom is shattered when the women fall ill to mysterious ailments caused by the radioactive paint. Though fatally ill, the women form a class-action lawsuit against the Radium Dial Company. Their struggle for justice in the face of personal, economic, and social constraints demonstrates the women’s individual strength and their collective power.