From Publishers Weekly
A former stripper, Burana (Strip City
) married a major in the U.S. Army and records, in this heartfelt though long-winded confessional, her attempts to render their two very different worlds compatible. Burana enjoyed a decidedly checkered past, from accidental teenage communist to peep-show girl and stripper in New York and San Francisco (she fondly recalls her Playboy
shoot), before meeting Major Mike at a ceremony in a Brooklyn cemetery in 2000. She was attracted by his sense of order and honor, even charmed by his military jargon, while he admired her rebelliousness, though these same qualities would challenge their relationship over time. Living together in a condo near Fort Meade, Fla., where Mike was stationed, segued into a quick marriage (she called herself a War on Terror bride), before he was deployed to Iraq for six months in 2003, creating for her a painful personal trial of waiting and self-discipline. Their move to West Point underscored her new role as military wife, and she embarked on a gloomy, unstable period of psychological turmoil requiring therapy and medication for her own brand of post-traumatic stress disorder. Marriage counseling worked for them, bucking the high divorce rate within the armed forces, and Burana concludes her memoir on a positive note, having made peace with the army's fallibility and found her own place in it. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* What’s a woman like me doing in a place like this? That’s the question former punk-rock stripper and Playboy pinup Burana ponders many times after marrying Major Mike, a military intelligence officer and professor at West Point. This disarming memoir recounts the couple’s unlikely courtship (they met in a cemetery) and Burana’s perpetually arduous adjustment to life as a military wife. The challenges for the two came hard and fast. Seemingly moments after they were married, Mike was deployed to Iraq. Burana found herself lonely and alone, living among women who baked cookies, coddled toddlers, and generally toed the line. Mike returned from war quiet and withdrawn, but soon everything was fine again—or so they thought. Then Mike started feeling the effects of his harrowing ordeals overseas just as Burana began grappling with memories of an abusive childhood. The emotional battles they faced nearly brought them down, but the two soldiered on, determined to repair lives fractured by a brutal war and a painful past. Burana (Strip City, 2001) writes with bracing honesty and wit. Of keeping company with West Point wives, she writes: “Mostly . . . it seemed to me like a supportive sorority. But sometimes, it was like Mean Girls with lawn ornaments.” --Allison Block