It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 16.0

Happy Monday everyone! This week I am participating in the “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme.

***

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

My thoughts on books I recently finished:

astronaut-wives-club

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

As America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons.

Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK’s favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other’s children by day, while going to glam parties at night as the country raced to land a man on the Moon.

As their celebrity rose-and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives-they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history.

As someone who grew up fascinated by the space program, dreamed of becoming an astronaut, and actually worked at NASA for about two years I was REALLY excited when I saw this book was coming out. So excited that I actually purchased a copy (as opposed to checking out from the library), which is becoming a rarer occurrence these days. I’ve read many (many) books on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, and always wanted to know more about what happened behind the scenes on the home front. Needless to say, I was definitely the target audience for this book and I really, really wanted to love it…except I didn’t.

For starters, for a book that aims to tell the stories of wives from all 3 programs, it focuses predominately on the Mercury wives. Since I probably know the least about this era of NASA history I didn’t mind this too much at first. However, as the book continued on and I realized that Koppel was going to cram the Gemini and Apollo wives (which were much bigger groups then the original seven) into the remaining half of the (already slender) volume I found my tolerance waning. Having had about a month and a half to decompress and put this book in perspective, I realize now that a narrower focus would have done MUCH to improve the narrative. In addition to relieving the constant blitzkrieg of names and dates thrown around (which would be VERY confusing if you weren’t already familiar with astronauts and their missions), it would have allowed Koppel to give more depth (and life) to each woman.

Speaking of superficial details and flat characters…Koppel does not do a good job of distinguishing the wives from one another or even making them seem like real people. Instead of focusing on individual achievements and life stories, Koppel provides light chatter on their wardrobes, cleaning rituals, and social routines. Even when she does hit on hard issues like infidelity and divorce, it still feels like gossip from a neighbor and not an accurate, thoroughly researched biography. One reviewer on Goodreads commented that this book sounds as though she (Koppel) cobbled together Life magazine articles, and sadly I must agree.

I realize this is probably one of the harshest reviews I’ve posted on this blog, and I know much of this stems from my deep and very genuine love of the space program. This is not a great book, but the story of these women’s lives is definitely worth telling and reading. Overall, I was sorely disappointed, but recommend reading this book if you are looking for a quick overview of the astronaut wives.  3/5 stars.

Books I recently read:

Frozen in Time by Michell Zuckoff

frozen in time


This Week I am reading:

Beloved

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.

This Week I am listening to:

orangeisnewblack

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years ago. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187-424—one of the millions of women who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules, where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Orange Is the New Black offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison, why it is we lock so many away, and what happens to them when they’re there.

***

What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

Advertisements

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tanya @ moms small victories
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 16:49:10

    I listened to Orange is the New Black and really enjoyed it. I would like to read Beloved and The Astronauts Wives Club too! I hope you will stop by and share your recap, favorite book review and/or recipe in my Small Victories Sunday linkup http://momssmallvictories.com/small-victories-sunday-6-the-one-where-karma-goes-bad-and-we-rocked-to-bon-jovi/

    Reply

  2. ejmam
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 18:22:51

    I remember finding Beloved powerful and beautiful, but have suppress all memory of the book itself. I hope you enjoy it.

    Reply

  3. Lindsey
    Nov 19, 2013 @ 08:41:16

    I thought The Astronaut Wives Club looked interesting, but I don’t think I will run out and get it after reading your review. History books can be tough – having too much or too little information can really ruin a story.

    Reply

    • exlibrisheather
      Nov 19, 2013 @ 11:21:45

      Get it from the library–that’s my recommendation. It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, I just know what this book could be and it was really disappointing that it wasn’t.

      Reply

  4. JaimeLovesStuff.com
    Nov 20, 2013 @ 08:10:48

    Bummer on the Astronaut Wives Club. I was excited when I saw it but not so much now.

    I am a huge Toni Morrison fan and love Beloved.

    Enjoy!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: