Two star review, originally posted here on July 19, 2020.
I’ll start by emphasizing that I consumed this one as an audiobook, which may have been a poor choice. It could easily be that, had I been reading text, I may have liked this book more. That being said…
I’m surprised at my own poor rating on this one, especially since it seems to be right in my wheelhouse and it came highly recommended. I think the main problem was that the author was trying to combine two separate things that just did not fit together in my mind. The content about Rocky Flats was interesting enough, but the author also talked a lot about her own family, which was, frankly, exceedingly boring and uninteresting. Occasionally her own life crossed paths with the nuclear site down the road, and these segments were a bit more interesting. For example, she used to play in water that was clearly contaminated. And as an adult she took a temp job at the plant. Her family moved into a brand new suburb that should never have been built due to its proximity to the site. And multiple friends wound up with testicular cancer from the site. All of this relevant personal information gives the reader some insight into life in the “nuclear shadow.” But we also had completely irrelevant stories about riding horses and owning dogs and not wanting to wear pantyhose and having an alcoholic father and a Norwegian mother. If these things had somehow been tied in maybe they would have worked. I was waiting for the part where the author reveals that all of their pets were turning out mutated like the nearby rancher who kept bringing in mutated farm animals, but there was never a tie-in. I found myself just confused and bored.
A strong edit could have made this a great book. There was plenty of potential to really draw in and educate the readers, and some excerpts were really compelling. But the overall structure just did not work for me.