Everyone knows that dipping into the powder can be a tad dangerous. Blow a little here, blow a little there — next thing you know, you’re radioactive.
In Ann Cummins’s debut novel, Yellowcake, the eponymous substance refers to radioactive powder used to make fuel for nuclear reactors. Set in a small Southwestern town, the moving story focuses on two families (“one Anglo, one Navajo”) suffering the effects of uranium.
At the center of the novel is curmudgeonly patriarch Ryland, who denies his illness is caused by yellowcake. His American Indian counterpart, Woodrow, is dying of lung cancer. Meanwhile, Woodrow’s daughter goes all Erin Brockovich on the town, filing a lawsuit to compensate the employees exposed to toxic materials.
The achy-breaky heartwrencher is brimming with affairs, alcoholism, illness, poverty, prejudice, and betrayal.
Needless to say, this powder is a guaranteed high.
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