Radio Girl

Written by Carol Brendler
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Cece is a fourteen-year-old with big dreams, especially for a girl living above a Newark, New Jersey hardware store in 1938 – she wants to be a radio star.  She adores her seldom-seen sound effects man father, but lives mainly in the company of her hardworking mother and young aunt, the ham radio buff downstairs, and is guided by the relentless optimism of her best friend.

As soon as she gets her working papers, Cece heads across the river to follow her dream.  Some happy circumstances and a gruff but good-natured receptionist give her entry to the world of the CBS radio network just as a wunderkind young Orson Wells is preparing for his War of the Worlds broadcast (at their first meeting he pulls a quarter out of Cece’s ear.) She also forms a solid friendship with a young page looking to get into the news side of broadcasting.  But all is not as it seems in the glamorous world, as epitomized by a prima donna actress.  Cece’s poor but stable life in New Jersey comes crashing down just as the town is sent into a panic on Halloween Eve by the broadcast of martins in New Jersey.

The YA novel’s Cece is a great guide through both the atmosphere of Depression Era Newark and New York City and the deceptions that unfold throughout the story.  Both poignant and hopeful, Radio Girl should delight young readers.