Saturday, July 27, 2013

44th Anniversary

I missed posting this review on the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, but only by a week. Okay, I have to admit I have heard the stories from a number of people who watched this historic event on television, my husband and parents among them. Me, I didn't see it. In fact, I wasn't even born yet. It would be over a year before I appeared on this Earth. So for me, astronauts, rockets, space shuttles, and NASA have always been a part of my life; just like Satellites, Tang, Teflon, and Velcro.

For me, the space event I remember the most happened when I was a freshman in high school. I was sitting in Mrs. Leonhardt's English class the morning of January 28, 1986. She was at the front of the room talking about something I'm sure was very important for my grammatical and / or literary future (like righting blog entries and book reviews), but what I remember the most was the knock on the door. Now, it was not unusual for someone to knock on the door, but when Mrs. Leonhardt walked out the door and when she re-entered the classroom, she had a completely different demeanor. I don't remember ever seeing one of my teachers cry. In fact, as a teacher's kid I was used to seeing teachers in a variety of moods, but devastated was just not on that list of emotions. I could not imagine what could have happened to upset her so. I went to comfort her by giving her a hug. That is when I found out the Space Shuttle Challenger with the first member of the Teacher in Space Project had broken apart and disintegrated in Florida. It is one of those moments in history where you will always remember where you were and the people around you.

The Astronaut Wives Club
by Lily Koppel
During the publicity buzz for The Astronaut Wives Club I saw an interview with some of the wives who played a key role in this book on the CBS Sunday Morning. After listening to these brave women talk about the homes and community they built in Togethersville, "the ironic name journalists gave to the space burb of Clear Lake City, the "City of the Future" [Loc 1478], I knew I wanted to learn more about these amazing women who stood in the background of history.

I can't say I have always been fascinated with space. When you live in the city, it is hard to see the stars, let alone imagine the wonders of the universe. I can't even imagine the lives these women lead during late 1959 through the 1960s. Every time my husband or son leave the house I tell them to be careful. I can completely understand Barbara Cernan's comment in the book "If you think going to the Moon is hard, try staying at home" [Loc 2961]. I would be a nervous wreck.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the different groups of astronaut wives (Mercury Seven, The Next Nine, The Fourteen, The Scientists, and the Original Nineteen) and how they intermingled, or not. The background stories of each of the wives was very different and enlightening. It is sad to learn so many of the marriages between the women who stayed home and maintained some semblance of normalcy for their family and their astronaut husbands were destroyed because of this profession. Their lives were interrupted by journalists and reports. They had no privacy and they were constantly scrutinized. The wives had to watch every step and not "bother" their husbands with trivial tasks or problems around the house. I'm not sure how any of the marriages lasted with this kind of pressure. I have to applaud these women for the sacrifices they made for the technological advancement made by the United States Space Program. It was quite a daunting task and they should be applauded and held in high esteem. They should be in the history books along with their husbands and not hidden behind the kitchen door.

I will say the layout of the book seemed jumpy to me. Now, I don't know if this is because I was reading an electronic copy of the book or not. I do know the final published book had photographs that were not included in the eBook. This could have caused the sense of bouncing from one astrowife to another.

I would recommend this book for public and high school libraries. I believe this is wonderful background information into the history of women in America and helps to show exactly how far we have come as a society in making women an equal partner.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Grand Central Publishing has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

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