Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War

Helen Thorpe. Scribner, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6810-0
Journalist Thorpe (Just Like Us) tells the moving story of three women in the Indiana National Guard who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Following her subjects from 2001 to 2013, Thorpe draws on interviews, personal correspondence, emails, diaries, medical records, and even therapists’ notes to portray their lives before, during, and after deployments. Michelle Fisher, a “music-loving... left-leaning” college student; Desma Brooks, a single mom with three children and three jobs; and Debbie Helton, a grandmother in her 50s and one of the longest-serving females in the National Guard, had different reasons for enlisting before 9/11. Not expecting to go to war, the three women bonded during their service in Afghanistan as part of the 113th Support Battalion at Camp Phoenix in Kabul. Through the years—in Afghanistan, where they diligently fulfilled their duties and struggle to adapt to military culture; in their return to civilian life; in the redeployment of two of them to Iraq—their support for each another never wavers. They speak openly about their drinking, illicit affairs, and struggles to fit in among a civilian population that seems oblivious to either war. Highlighting how profoundly military service changed their lives—and the lives of their families—this visceral narrative illuminates the role of women in the military, the burdens placed on the National Guard, and the disproportionate burden of these wars borne by the poor. Agent: Denise Shannon, Denise Shannon Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 08/05/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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