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3.9 out of 5 stars
Atomic Farmgirl: The Betrayal of Chief Qualchan, the Appaloosa, and Me
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2001
Teri Hein's book about growing up downwind of Hanford is a gem. Clean, honest recollections are buoyed up by elegant research into the area and the families that lived there. The facts are presented and the reader is allowed to draw his/her own conclusion about the impact of radiation exposure from Hanford. A gripping read that everyone in Washington should have in their library.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2000
The debate over the Hanford Nuclear reservation, and its effects on the environmental, medical, and spiritual health of the land and the people of the Pacific Northwest has been raging for years. Teri Hein puts a face, I should say, puts faces to that debate as she weaves a touching true story of growing up on a farm downwind from Hanford, where her family and surrounding families must live with the health effects of the nuclear age. It's a story of the land, the people, and the forces which can bring the ugly and tragic to the serene and beautiful. Don't pass this book up. As funny as it is sad. A quick read, that will not fade quickly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2003
I got this book because of a great review in Creative Loafing that called it "extraordinary and haunting." I couldn't agree more. It's literary, it's historical, it's funny, it's tragic, it's good. And talk about timely.....in these days of warped homeland security, this book gives a birds eye view of what that is all about. The new foreward for the paperback version is , in two words, very concerning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2001
By virtue of this book's unusual structure and approach, it probably doesn't fit the political agendas of some people. But this book isn't meant to preach to the choir and it isn't meant as a simplistic rant against the evils of nuclear power, at least as far as I can tell. What it was for me in reading it was a lovely, poetic account of what a neighborhood really is and the sad truth about what can happen to it. Teri Hein made me laugh and cry in the same book. That is a very good writing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2000
Teri Hein is a wit. Her writing, like her perceptions about life, is sharp, insightful, and full of joy. ATOMIC FARMGIRL is not just a nostalgic look into the lives of people who worked and laughed their way through struggles on a western wheatland. Here is a book about all of us who found our way through adolescence and tried to understand the adults around us. When I was half way through the book I found myself wanting to slow down, not wanting to reach the end this captivating narrative. Hein better be working on her second book because her readers will be wanting more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2013
Atomic Farmgirl is a well crafted account of the life of a downwinder's family and neighbors in the Palouse Hills. The story is open, honest, and filled with excellent examples of character and scene development. Although my recent book, Buckshot Pie, has a different topic - the childhoods of 5 Palouse Hills brothers and their contributions during WW II, the similarities are striking. We both paint a picture of the life in smalltown farm communities in eastern Washington. We both covered the rolling hills, plowing the deep soil, harvest time, wheat, Steptoe Butte, loess, bird-hunting, small schools, churches, football, basketball, baseball, parades, horses and the list of is endless. Atomic Farmgirl: The Betrayal of Chief Qualchan, the Appaloosa, and Me.

Like the author, I grew up in one of these small towns - Oakesdale, just 25 miles southwest of Teri's beloved Fairfield. If you draw a 100-mile line between Hanford and Fairfield, Oakesdale will be bisected by that line, a line which also represents the prevailing southwesterlies. The experience of my neighborhood is congruent to that of Teri's neighborhood. One cold winter morning in the mid-fifties we awoke to a freshly fallen cover of snow. It was dotted with beautiful pink spots like some miracle, but it was not from nature, nor from heaven. I believe it was one of the many releases of radioactive toxins from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. We frolicked in that snow, made snow angels and snow men; and built forts and had snowball fights! Within the year, my closest neighbors Tom Crossett and Ray Ebert developed thyroid disease. Subsequently, Tom's sister Suzy Crossett, my cousin Susan Gregory, Tom's closest friends Danny Horn and Mike Lamb, my closest friend Johnny Rogers, and three of the four Byrum brothers have all died of cancer, long before their time. Consequently, Teri's account is deeply poignant for me. I feel as if I've known her all my life. Teri filets her soul open to the world and exposes every nerve. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2006
I am writing this before I have finished reading Atomic Farmgirl. I am a product of an era just before Teri Hein so some of my memories are slightly different. But, I grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa. Instead of wheat and peas, we grew corn and soy beans. Her descriptions of the very simple events of any given day are so clearly described that they evoke very strong memories for me of my childhood. Learning to drive the tractor during the haying season; helping hold a piece of metal while Dad was welding (though my father insisted we wear the special mask to protect our eyes); the smell of the horse stalls and tack room were most evocative. The lunches in the field, the "party" telephone line; the balky Shetland pony and the wonderful replacement horse... Unless one has experienced these things, it is probably pretty boring, but for one who lived a similar childhood, I am loving it!

The importance of family lineage and the naming of farmsteads by the original owner is so typical of rural America. Even 15 years ago living in a small town in Iowa, our home was known by the name of the owner during the 20's-50's, not as our home. Who your grandparents were was very important, and sometimes created social strains over issues as insignificant as a dead dog incident that happened 50 years before!

The underlying theme of the leakage from the plutonium plant is not within my experience, but is certianly an interesting focus for this story.

So read Atomic Farmgirl and learn about life in rural America during the 50's. It's not that way now, to a great extent, though our son, his wife, and 8 children are still trying to live out that wonderful farming dream.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2000
Teri took me back to the wonder of early spring greening fields, unmatched in color anywhere in nature, and followed the wheat to harvest. All glorious in my memory, rekindled with her words. She shares her family that watches TV together, a marvelous new pastime back then, then shows us the slow dying of family, neighbors and friends. Luckily Teri chooses not to hammer the indisputable facts of Hanford poisons, but weaves it into this enhanced life story, rather like following the wheat from plowing to harvest. Easy to read and like warm bread with fresh bread to this reader.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2000
Atomic Farmgirl is about many things. It is about Hein's family and growing up in the farm lands of eastern Washington. It is about the calamities that have struck this place for over a hundred years. It is about the nuclear industry and the tragedy it has bestowed on our landscape. Teri Hein gracefully avoids a knee jerk political book and challenges us to appreciate this un-simple story. Her book is very very human...and funny and wise and lovely to read. My friend sent it to me. Send a copy to your friend who lives on a farm....or in a city.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2002
I have always been intrigued by the eastern side of Washington and its close proximity to Hanford. Shortly after reading the book, I was able to drive through the setting of the book, including the town itself. It was so beautiful with the wheat blowing in the wind. It was difficult to believe the sadness of cancer lurked in the air. A very interesting read.
I have recommended the book to many of my friends in the Columbia Basin.
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