Fully Body Burden, a book by American author Kristen Iversen, chronicles her upbringing in rural Colorado and tells the history of Rocky Flats, a nuclear plant located just yards away from her neighborhood.
Even though I only have a small interest in science, I found the book fascinating because of the way it was written. Iversen’s storytelling is unique as she switches back and forth between her life and what is happening at the plant. Her technique highlights the fact that there is so much happening in the world right now, but that we mostly remain unaware unless it affects our lives directly.
The book also emphasizes the unfortunate trend of how some companies and businesses keep secrets from civilians, even if it means compromising their health and well-being. Iversen describes how Rocky Flats knowingly polluted the environment for decades with radioactive waste, causing future health problems for many of the local residents. Their actions only further illustrate how money is usually sought over honesty and how ignorance is usually the case. It wasn’t until the late 1980s and into the 1990s that legal action was taken against Rock Flats’ operation.

One of the other qualities I liked in this book was its setting. I enjoyed imagining the landscape and environment of Colorado, where there is so much space. I definitely would like to visit there someday, considering the furthest west I have ever been is Chicago.
There were a few sections of the book I felt could be a little bit shorter, usually the parts involving the court cases. It makes sense that court cases are a long process, but I found myself having to press on a few times.
I admire Iversen for her dedication that went into writing the book.

According to the notes in the back, it took twelve years for her to complete it: gathering the information through interviews, extensive research and combining it all together. The story introduced so many people that I found it hard to keep track of all of them, yet Iversen was able to achieve it while writing the book. Her work is the work of a great investigative journalist. Being an aspiring journalist myself, I applaud her perseverance and motivation. It’s my goal someday to write a book and hers is definitely one of the kind I would like to write.

Read this book; it’s not just a great memoir but also focuses on both physical threats and invisible threats: radioactive waste and ignorance.

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