Monday, February 01, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Almost Astronauts

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream. Tanya Lee Stone. 2009. Candlewick. 144 pages. [Paperback is coming in February 2010.]

July 1999
One woman stands alone, off to the side of the crowd.
She paces back and forth--agitated, excited, impatient.
From the back, it is hard to tell her age; her faded brown leather jacket and blond ponytail reveal nothing. But if she were to turn to glance at the group of women on the observation bleachers behind her, you would see the lines of time etched on her face. You would see a smile tinged with sadness.
Although the women behind her huddle close like sisters, sharing a chuckle, a tease here and there, a knowing look, it is not at her expense. They understand her need for solitude. This is an emotional time for all of them, but perhaps especially for her, Jerrie Cobb.
It was Jerrie who led them in a quest to live their dreams, Jerrie who first believed they had a shot at all this, Jerrie who still, to this day, is fighting for her dream.
Nearly forty years earlier, it was Jerrie who thought she would be exactly where Eileen Collins is right now: inside a NASA craft, about to fly into space.
This one should be a must-read. It is one of those books where I learned how much I just don't know. The story of these women--of Jerrie Cobb especially--was an amazing one. A book that left me a little shocked, disappointed, and more than a little sad. Why didn't I know her story? their stories? How could I not have known that there were women involved in the space race?! That there were women--really qualified women--that were being denied the chance to be astronauts because they were women. Of course there were a few reasons given as to why they were being denied. But some of these "excuses" really shocked me. I guess I'm a bit naive.

Almost Astronauts is well-written. It's simply fascinating. Very compelling. Not all nonfiction has the same quality as fiction. That can't-put-it-down factor that makes a book really good. That makes a book a must-read.

I would definitely recommend this one. In particular, I think Pat would like this one. Also I think this one would be just perfect for those in the Women Unbound challenge hosted by Eva, Aarti, and Care.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book...adding it to the list!

Robin M said...

Wow - I had no idea. I'm going to have to read this one. Thanks.

Emidy @ Une Parole said...

It's great to shed some light on this important subject that isn't talked about enough. I'll keep this one in mind - it sounds like an informative read!

from Une Parole

DesLily said...

Oooooo ! I think so too ! It goes on the wish list... if I am lucky I will be able to get it in March for my b'day!! Not all that far away. Thanks Becky!

DesLily said...

holy cow Becky! just went to amazon ... that is expensive for a book that can be read in one or two sittings!! ...but I put it on the wish list cause I really do think i would like to read this..

benbes said...

I will rally buy this book, sound like a good story about these women dream.
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Jeannine Atkins said...

I totally agree! It is a must read. Thank you for featuring one of my favorite books of 2009!

Care said...

I have been thinking about this book - I know I would like it. I was just at an air museum in Phoenix and one of the displays talked about the women involved with establishing the WASP etc programs for WWII and I want to find more information on them, as well.