BookBrowse Reviews A Girl's Guide to Missiles by Karen Piper

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A Girl's Guide to Missiles

Growing Up in America's Secret Desert

by Karen Piper

A Girl's Guide to Missiles by Karen Piper X
A Girl's Guide to Missiles by Karen Piper
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  • Published:
    Aug 2018, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Adrienne Pisch

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The military weapons facility where Karen Piper spent her childhood stays with her well into adulthood; no matter how she tries to escape, the military mindset shapes the woman Piper becomes.

The Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake near California's Mojave Desert is the navy's largest land base, roughly the size of Rhode island, and the central setting of A Girl's Guide To Missiles. Karen Piper moves there as a child in the 1970s when her father, an engineer, is hired to help design the sidewinder missile (a Vietnam War-era weapon still in use today), and from that moment forward it becomes an all-consuming force in her life. The memoir chronicles how Piper, her mother and her sister are all drawn into working at the facility. When Piper leaves for college her family stays on the base, and the narrative shifts focus to recount her struggles to reconcile her military upbringing with her adult life.

Piper vividly blends the personal and the historical, capturing the cultural changes within America along with those in her own life and family. This grounding in American ...

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