Author to share childhood secrets

Kristen Iversen, who will speak at California State University, Sacramento on Tuesday, Nov. 12, remembers Rocky Flats as the “big secret” of her Colorado childhood in the 1950s and ’60s.

She grew up in the suburbs of Denver, where neighbors speculated that the mysterious factory 3 miles away probably manufactured household cleaning products — but why were so many people who worked there or lived nearby getting sick and dying?

In reality, Rocky Flats was a secret nuclear weapons plant that the Energy Department would designate “the most contaminated site in America.”

Iversen uncovers the truth about the government’s secret operation that spread deadly plutonium far and wide — and the truth about her own family — in “Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats” (Crown, $15 paperback, 432 pages). It’s both a coming-of-age memoir and a piece of investigative journalism.

And it’s Sacramento State’s One Book selection for 2013-14.

“Through the powerful genre of the memoir, Iversen’s book brings to the forefront the issues of nuclear waste on the environment, scientific discoveries and implementation, and family organization and dysfunction,” said Hellen Lee, faculty coordinator for the One Book Program.

“Her book fits perfectly with the purpose of the program, which is to bring together members of our campus and the surrounding community to discuss important issues facing the world today.”

Iversen will speak at 7 p.m. in the University Union Ballroom and sign books afterward. Her topic is “Fukushima, Rocky Flats and the Myth of Absolute Safety: When Government or Corporations Put Our Health at Risk.”

The lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is free after 6:30 p.m. on the sixth floor of parking structure III. (Interactive campus map at

The Author Day lecture is hosted by Sacramento State’s One Book Program and is co-sponsored by Sacramento State, the Department of Physics’ Chien Hu Institute, Hornet Bookstore, UNIQUE Programs, Academic Affairs and University Enterprises Inc.

Iversen also is the author of “Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth and Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.” She teaches literary nonfiction and fiction, specializing in memoir and literary journalism, at the University of Memphis.

For more information on Sac State’s One Book Program go to

California State Unversity, Sacramento

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