Books that feature librarians or libraries will be reviewed here.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady - by Elizabeth Stuckey-French
This novel, with its delightfully kitschy title and cover illustration, is based on a real experiment undertaken during the cold war, in which pregnant women were given a radioactive "potion" to drink without their knowledge or consent. Our heroine, Marylou, (aka Nance, a name she takes from a character in a B movie about a 50 foot tall woman) is out to exact revenge upon the doctor who conducted the experiment and ultimately caused the death of her daughter, with whom she was three months pregnant at the time of the experiment. When she discovers the now retired doctor lives in Tallahassee with his daughter and her family, she moves from her home in Memphis and begins picking away at the peripheries of his life by becoming intimately involved with his three teenage grandchildren. It is because of these ties that the doctor's youngest grandchild, thirteen-year-old Suzi, asks MaryLou to take her to the public library, "the big one downtown." When Marylou discovers which books Suzi has checked out she understands why Suzi hadn't asked one of her parents to take her, and why she wanted to read them at Marylou's house, rather than her own home - all the books were about sex. And then Suzi confides a shocking secret that leaves Marylou unsure of how she should proceed.
I thought this passage was a beautiful illustration of why it is important for library records to remain confidential. Although an adult reader may argue that Suzi needs to talk to her parents, the the truth is that teenagers don't like to talk to their parents about sex, especially where it concerns their own sexuality. Suzi needed answers and she knew the library was a good place to start.