Soldier Girls

Soldier Girls

The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War

Book - 2014
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From an award-winning, "meticulously observant" ( The New Yorker ), and "masterful" ( Booklist ) writer comes a groundbreaking account of three women deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and how their military service affected their friendship, their personal lives, and their families.

America has been continuously at war since the fall of 2001. This has been a matter of bitter political debate, of course, but what is uncontestable is that a sizeable percentage of American soldiers sent overseas in this era have been women. The experience in the American military is, it's safe to say, quite different from that of men. Surrounded and far outnumbered by men, imbedded in a male culture, looked upon as both alien and desirable, women have experiences of special interest.

In Soldier Girls , Helen Thorpe follows the lives of three women over twelve years on their paths to the military, overseas to combat, and back home...and then overseas again for two of them. These women, who are quite different in every way, become friends, and we watch their interaction and also what happens when they are separated. We see their families, their lovers, their spouses, their children. We see them work extremely hard, deal with the attentions of men on base and in war zones, and struggle to stay connected to their families back home. We see some of them drink too much, have illicit affairs, and react to the deaths of fellow soldiers. And we see what happens to one of them when the truck she is driving hits an explosive in the road, blowing it up. She survives, but her life may never be the same again.

Deeply reported, beautifully written, and powerfully moving, Soldier Girls is truly groundbreaking.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Scribner, ©2014.
ISBN: 9781451668100
Characteristics: xi, 397 pages ;,24 cm.


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ArapahoeShell Nov 15, 2016

This book describes the experiences of three women soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to reveal how their military service has affected their friendship, personal lives and families, detailing the realities of their work on bases and in war zones and how their choices and losses shaped their perspectives.

Jan 22, 2015

It is such a shame, that in seeking to better themselves, people believe the best available choice is to go to foreign lands and kill foreign people? Sounds like those Euros going to join up with ISIS, or the so-called Islamice State?

Jan 22, 2015

Three women from southern IN, where I once lived, join the Army National Guard. They are smart, and want to better themselves. Michelle, 18, wants to get out of her dysfunctional, drugging family, and go to college. Desma's a single mom of, eventually, 3, and needs to support them. Debbie's middle aged, a grandmother by the end of the book, cheerful, friendly, and the other two gravitate to her hot dog truck during Guard weekends. Michelle and Desma have a lot of trouble in Basic, though Michelle sees she'll do better if she goes along, and Desma rebels. After a long fake deployment the three end up near each other in the same camp in Afghanistan, and have a rather easy year long deployment. Coming home is harder. Relationships are fraught. Jobs either disappear, or can't be jumped back into quickly. Desmas' kids aren't the same. Families have changed. Even stable Debbie's different. These three, and some other women and men they'd gotten close to, including their Afghan translator, keep in close touch. Then they are deployed to Iraq, all except for Michelle, who suffers terrible guilt, and the translator, who has had no luck finding work in the US and goes back to Afghanistan, where the only job he can find is a translator in a prison filled with Taliban, which will mean he can't safely get a job on the outside. There he is changed irrevocably. Finally, an accident on an Iraqi road changes one of them forever. This book made me understand why serving in the US ARMY is so difficult, and made you care about each of the women involved, and the men and children affected by her service. It doesn't matter that some of their choices aren't the best. The Army and the VA should be making their post-service lives a lot easier than they've made them. These young women and men enlisted, for the most part, in the wake of 9/11, wanting to do something good for their country. More than a decade later, all of them are suffering mightily for that choice. The writing was stunning.

Sep 20, 2014

Although this book is not the best-written work of non-fiction I've ever read, the story of the three women, and their experiences in the Indiana National Guard at home and in deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan consistently held my interest. I find that I'm still thinking about them, weeks after I finished the book.

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