I am happy to announce that my very first book review beyond the pages of this blog is up at the Washington Independent Review of Books. It’s actually not a book review per se, but a Q&A with Tracy Crow, author of the memoir Eyes Right, Confessions of a Woman Marine.

In the late 70s, fresh out of high school, Tracy Crow joined the Marine Corps, not quite sure what she was signing up for but damn sure that she needed straightening out. While as a woman she could not serve in a combat unit, she nevertheless fought her entire ten years as a Marine, primarily to prove herself. The battle became mainly one against herself, as she realizes in the end, when her military career goes up in smoke at the threat of a court martial.

For all the memoirs I’ve read, I never expected a memoir could read like a thriller. Eyes Right does. It kept me engrossed during my recent long flight from Chicago to Shanghai. Crow’s memoir let me look into a world that is utterly different from mine, let me experience a life that is absolutely foreign to me, complete with requisite lingo that I didn’t know (never knew “head” meant “restroom”).

That’s the power of memoir: It allows me to get to know a world I would never know otherwise, gives me a report from the front lines of what that life was like, and tries to figure out why the narrator made certain decisions. Eyes Right definitely accomplishes all that, in addition to being rather entertaining.