Discussion Topics – Soldier Girls

What were your thoughts about women serving in the military before you read Soldier Girls?

Did these women defy your expectations about “soldier girls”?

Was there one woman to whom you were most drawn? One whose story you found most interesting or poignant?

What surprised you about their experiences?

What are your thoughts about the different strategies that the women used to cope?

Did the military do more to help or to damage them?

What do you think they took away from the National Guard?

Discussion topics – Fire & Forget

We will be focusing on two stories in Fire & Forget:

 Tips for a Smooth Transition, by Siobhan Fallon  (chapter 2)

Unlike the other stories in Fire and Forget, the soldier is threatened by something other than war.  The author said in an interview, “I want the reader to wonder who is more unhinged by the deployment/marital separation: the guilt-ridden wife or the returning soldier?”  Both the soldier and his wife struggle with conflicting expectations of homecoming.  Will they maintain their marriage or go their separate ways?   We, as readers, are also unsure how this story will end.

  • How would you characterize Colin, the returning soldier?
  • What was your reaction when he jumped into a pod of Galapagos sharks during their Hawaiian vacation?
  • As for Evie, did you want her to succeed in hiding her infidelity from her husband?
  • Her reaction to being surrounding by sharks was strikingly different.  Why?
  • Do you think this couple will make it?

– Redeployment, by Phil Klay (chapter 3)

In an interview , the author said that, “Leaving the Marine Corps was more disorienting than returning home.”  He found difficulty being around civilians after being surrounded by Marines.

  • How does that compare to your experience, or to the experiences of veterans you know? How did you/they  “decompress”?
  • Through his main character, the author expresses a lot of frustration about civilian apathy.  In the story he notes that shopping is how America fights back against the terrorist.  How do you think civilian citizens view the war?
  • The narrator starts the story “we shot dogs” and ends with the shooting of his beloved family pet.  Even though he says that “something in me is going to break if I do this,” he does it anyway. Were you surprised by the ending?

Several copies are available at the Schurz Library – call number PS648.W34 F57 2013.   We also have a few to give away!