From Publishers Weekly
In 1992, Nichols' beloved elder sister was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. On her deathbed, she makes Nichols, already a journalist, promise to write about her illness and what the two of them suspected might be the cause of it: massive pollution in their hometown of Waukegen, Ill., on the shore of Lake Michigan. In the midst of working on the book, Nichols received her own diagnosis-she also has a rare form of cancer which requires aggressive treatment. "My story was my sister's once over," she writes. Nichols constructs a fast-moving, urgent narrative that catalogues the evidence of the many different forms of pollution and the likelihood that they contributed to the cancers, documenting the choices and treatment she must face as a cancer patient. There is also, inevitably, a prosecutorial tone and a barely suppressed sense of outrage that such reckless pollution could be allowed to happen. Even if, as she explains, the facts that what she uncovers wouldn't stand up in court, the book still bears witness to both her own and her sister's trials.
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"A fast-moving, urgent narrative that catalogues the evidence of the many different forms of pollution and the likelihood that they contributed to the cancers, documenting the choices and treatment she must face as a cancer patient."
"Presents convincing proof that Waukegan and Lake Michigan are prime suspects in the sisters' cancers."
"In Lake Effect, Nichols, now 49, weaves her investigations of Waukegan's pollution and the causes of cancer with her own story of diagnosis and treatment. It's a thoughtful examination of the risks faced by bodies made by nature in a world fabricated by technology."
(Pittsburgh City Paper)
"...Eloquent indictment of decades of corporate carelessness, official inaction and American society's reflexive focus on searching for a cure instead of a cause."
"I read this book like a desert hiker drinks water—in great, thankful gulps. It's a scientific investigation of the most intimate sort. It's a family memoir with public policy implications. 'Stories matter,' says Nancy Nichols. And then she proves it."
(Sandra Steingraber biologist and author of Living Downstream)
"A stunning, haunting, exquisite memoir. As a scientist, I'm dumbstruck. As a human being, I'm appalled."
(Devra Davis Director, Center for Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh)
"In Lake Effect Nancy Nichols beautifully weaves together the story of her sister's death and her own ill health with the equally compelling story of her hometown of Waukegan on Lake Michigan's shores. Her quest to make sense of her family's devastating illnesses and the region's toxic chemicals is clear-eyed, eloquent, and revealing."
(Kathlyn Conway author of Ordinary Life and Illness and the Limits of Expression)
"Powerful. Intense. Compelling. With spare, elegant prose… poignant yet scientifically accurate, Nancy Nichols weaves a personal story into a universal tragedy, about toxic waste, careless industry, and human suffering."
(Pete Myers coauthor of Our Stolen Future)
"A chilling indictment of how government and big business prized profits over health and a moving tale of one woman's struggle to understand why."