Photo by Jay Adkins



Kristen Iversen is the author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth, winner of the Colorado Book Award and the Barbara Sudler Award for Nonfiction. Full Body Burden was chosen by Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association as one of the Best Books of 2012 and named 2012 Best Book about Justice by The Atlantic. Iversen’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Reader’s Digest, and many other publications. She has appeared on C-Span and NPR’s Fresh Air and worked extensively with A&E Biography, The History Channel, and the NEH. She holds a Ph.D from the University of Denver and is an associate professor at the University of Memphis, where she directs the MFA program in creative writing.  She is also the author of a textbook, Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.

Kristen grew up near the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant and later worked there herself.  She has two sons and currently lives in Memphis.




Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen – Excerpt from the First Chapter

It’s 1963 and I’m five. I lie across the backseat of the family car, sleeping with my cheek pressed against the vinyl. My mother sits in the front with baby Karin and my father drives, carefully holding his cigarette just at the window’s edge. This is how I remember my mother and father: smoking in a cool, elegant way that makes me want to grow up quick so I can smoke, too. It’s evening and I’m tired and cranky. The spring day has been spent on a long drive through the Colorado mountains, a Sunday ritual. We turn the corner to our home on Johnson Court, the square little house my parents bought when my father left his job as an attorney for an insurance company and set up his own law practice. The neighborhood is made up of winding rows of houses that all look like ours: a front door and a picture window facing the street, two windows on each side, and a sliding door in the back that opens to a postage-stamp backyard. We have a view of the mountains and one tree.“Uh-oh,” my mother says.“Jesus.” My dad stops the car. I scramble to my knees to look.


Full Body Burden: Reader’s Guide Questions

Download questions for Readers’ Groups and Study Guides.

Sample: In this book, author Kristen Iversen weaves together two narratives: a memoir of growing up in Arvada and a historical account of Rocky Flats and the nuclear industry. What effect did moving back and forth between the two storylines have on your experience of reading the book? Did you find one of the two storylines more compelling than the other? Can you think of a different way the book might have been structured?



Full Body Burden: Audio Chapter

Read by Kirsten Potter.  Epilogue read by Kristen Iversen.