For readers of A Civil Action and Refuge, a harrowing story of a body and a place--the New Jersey boglands, one of the most contaminated regions of the country. This is an American story. Two immigrant families drawn together from wildly different parts of the world, Italy on one side and Barbados on the other, pursued their vision of the American dream by building a summer escape in the boglands of New Jersey, where the rural and industrial collide. They picked gooseberries on hot afternoons and spent lazy days rowing dinghies down creeks. But the gooseberry patch was near a nuclear power plant that released record levels of radiation, and the creeks were invisibly ruined by illegally dumped toxic waste. One by one, family members found their bodies mirroring the compromised landscape of the Barrens: infertile and damaged by inexplicable growths. Soon the area parents were being asked to donate their children's baby teeth to be tested for radiation. Body Toxic is an environmental memoir--merging the personal and familial with the political and environmental. Intensely intimate and starkly contemporary, it is a story of bravery and resignation, of great hope and great loss.
This beautifully composed book presents American families in the midst of the wreckage of the American dream."[An] arresting memoir of a New Jersey girlhood lived in the shadows of the twentieth century's most sinister molecules: the DDT, tritium, chloradane, benzene, and plutonium that are now part of the American landscape...Antonetta's considerable achievement in Body Toxic is to devise a literary voice for the people who live in such places...What Antonetta has written is something new--a postpsychological memoir...By the end of this dark, disturbing book, you realize Antonetta has posed a challenge to our prevailing notions of science and journalism and even literary narrative. " Michael Pollan, New York Times Book Review"Bittersweet and spiked with startlingly poetic descriptions...[It] opens a new chapter in the literature of place and offers a fresh and poignant look at the old story of inheritance."Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)