This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe
Published by Scribner on August 5th 2014
Genres: memoir, nonfiction
Source: the library
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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 incontestable is that a sizable 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, embedded 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.
I was overall a little disappointed by the book. The three women featured in the book are every day women, the women you’d meet in line at the grocery store, or your neighbor or a co-worker. They are all very human, with a lot of faults and weaknesses, and it really made it hard for me to like them, especially one of the featured ladies. I just couldn’t really relate to any of the three women, but the book is well written, the pacing is great, it held my interest, I just wish the women were a little more likeable.
On the other hand, I think it’s fabulous that the author, Thorpe, chose to write about REAL, every day women.