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Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at…

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

by Helen Thorpe

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1247138,223 (3.96)23



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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
It just wasn't for me I heard a lot of great things about the book, which follows three women, from very different backgrounds (a grandmother, a college student and a mom) when they join the National Guard and eventually see action in war.
I've had friends and acquaintances join the military or are children in military families, so I had some idea of what I might read, but this was definitely an eye-opener. These women join for different reasons, have different issues, but end up having very similar experiences. Sexism. Discrimination. Dealing with wanted and unwanted attention. Being isolated as being among the few women there. Dealing with combat and the stresses of war and finding perhaps not so healthy outlets.
That said, I found it difficult to get into. Initially I really enjoyed it, but I tend to have trouble with books that shift perspective (The Warmth of Other Suns has a similar structure, switching between 3 different main views) so drastically. It helps that these three women eventually meet and become friends, but quite often I really prefer an author find a way to meld all three instead of constantly switching between them.
I also found the book sometimes much too detailed. I got a little bored reading so much into their love lives and the boyfriends/partners/etc. they left behind. It's understandable that this is part of many soldiers (male or female) experiences, where adultery and hook-ups (as well as drug use) are not at all uncommon when dealing with war and violence. But after a while I just wasn't interested in knowing how some of these relationships came together or disintegrated.
But as I mentioned before, this gives a deeper insight. Beyond those waving flags and welcome parades, soldiers come back (if they come back) to family, friends, colleagues, etc. who have no idea what they went through and likely can't imagine it. It's sad to see how and why people could be drawn to serve (college tuition is one item that really appeals to one of the women) but to see how little support they get from the government and how much red tape there can be.
Might recommend this to someone (female OR male!) who is considering enlisting or has a general interest in the military. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Soldier Girls by Helen Thorpe explores women in the military through three women’s stories. These women signed up for the Indiana National Guard but eventually find themselves serving in combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. These three women all had different reasons why they join the National Guard, but none of them was expecting what happened on September 11, 2001. After that date, things changed and all three women were eventually shipped off to the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Through detailed interviews the author chronicles not only what it was like to find their lives disrupted, their family in turmoil as they were sent to far distant lands, but also each woman had their own backstory and history. What I found most interesting was when they described the boredom, the isolation and the terror of serving in places where land mines and roadside bombs were a constant threat. On top of all the problems that soldiers have, being a woman in a male dominated military was extremely difficult as they faced sexual harassment, lack of consideration and being treated as second class citizens from their fellow soldiers. Trying to be a good soldier in these particular countries was difficult as well as the religion of the civilian population dictated that women should be at home being wives and mothers not out in the world pursuing careers.

Soldier Girls read like a novel, as the author lays out their stories over the course of four years and relates incidences from both their time away and the difficult transition to being back home. These women come alive and become real people on these pages, and their story is powerful, moving and informative. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 6, 2017 |
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. ( )
  anastaciaknits | Oct 29, 2016 |
The stories of three women are explored in detail in this book, which tackles the weighty subjects of the War on Terror, women serving in the military, and gender roles. The gulf between the experience of military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq and the public perception of the wars was striking throughout this book, delving into the mixed feelings even those serving in the military had about the conflicts. I would highly recommend this book for so many reasons, but primarily because it helped me better understand the American military, the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the lasting impact of those conflicts on veterans. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Apr 8, 2016 |
This book was a book club read, otherwise I might not have picked it up. I am a woman veteran; I enlisted in the Army in 1969. Things have changed in the military since then. These women are National Guard enlistees, and until their Guard Unit was called up, they were not in the military in the same way that an Army or a Navy enlistee is. Their expectation was one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, not a year in Iraq. As an in depth examination of how being deployed can change the directory of one's life, the book succeeds. All of the women the book follows were damaged by their experiences, some more than others. I feel politicians who want to send people to war zones should be required to read this book. ( )
  susanbeamon | Jul 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
In “Soldier Girls,” Ms. Thorpe — a veteran reporter and the author of the 2009 book “Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America” — recounts what happened to Ms. Brooks, Ms. Helton and Ms. Fischer when their National Guard units were deployed. In doing so, she gives us a dynamic understanding of what it’s been like for Guard members who unexpectedly found themselves shipped off to the front lines of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, their lives and plans disrupted, their families thrown into disarray. She chronicles how these once ordinary civilians were abruptly transformed into full-time soldiers, and how they coped with the boredom and isolation and terror of serving in places where land mines and I.E.D.’s and roadside bombs were a constant threat.
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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.… (more)

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