Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Full Body Burden - Iversen

Kristen Iversen grew up in the Bridlewood area of Colorado just a short distance from Rocky Flats, a nuclear plant where the government set up a facility for and supported the creation of plutonium pellets since the 1950's. These "pellets", as they are euphemistically called, are the key to sparking the blast that causes detonation in nuclear bombs. More importantly, these pellets are extremely radioactive and toxic to living things, as is the waste that is created during the process.

In Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats Iverson shares the story of her childhood growing up in the shadows of this oft neglected, poorly monitored plant (designated "the most contaminated site in America") which alledgedly polluted the environment surrounding the plant (I say alledgedly only because no court has had success with holding the government, or the companies it hired to manage the site, accountable), including poisoning ground water and making the land inhabitable to humans. Though, apparently, the Feds seem to think its perfectly acceptable to allow animals to live there, recently marking the land a "reservation".

While Iverson recalls her childhood with rose-colored glasses (riding horses, playing on the prairie land), she also tells of countless neighbors who moved away or died due to various cancers, illness that she and her siblings themselves continue to struggle with, and the overall damage done to the land she loved and called home for so many years. She also speaks frankly about her father's growing alcoholism, a full body burden itself, and how it affected she and her siblings as they matured and became adults, as well as her mother who refused to give up the fantasy of the perfect 1950's family, in the perfect house, on the perfect land.

A strongly written memoir, mixed with intense investigative exposé, this book addresses the damage secrets can cause a community, and a family, head on. This is a wonderful read of which everyone should be aware.

4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family.