Synopses & Reviews
For readers of A Civil Action
and Silent Spring
, comes Body Toxic
, a harrowing story of a family, a body, and a place among the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, in one of the most environmentally contaminated counties in the country.
Susanne Antonetta's family were immigrants from Italy on one side and Barbados on the other. They tried to realize the American dream by building a summer escape in the boglands of New Jersey, a place where the rural and industrial collide. They picked gooseberries along the chain-link fence of Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant, which ultimately released more radiation than Three Mile Island. They rowed dinghies along creeks contaminated with drums of toxic waste dumped illegally by various chemical companies. At the time, the young Antonetta and her cousins were obsessed with the threat of nuclear war, oblivious to what was going on around them.
At first local officials began to warn people about their wells. Eventually, parents were asked to donate their children's baby teeth to be tested for radiation. One by one, Antonetta's family discovered they had an array of health problems, and that they were part of a larger pattern of health problems.
Body Toxic merges the personal and familial with the historical, political, and environmental, creating a work that is intensely intimate and starkly political. Brave, harrowing, beautifully written, Antonetta's memoir explores an American family in the midst of the wreckage of the American dream.