Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Review: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

Growing up on Florida's Space Coast, I am always interested in any accounts of the amazing things that took place in my back yard. I saw a friend post that she was reading this book, which I had never seen before, and I immediately added it to my queue.

The Astronaut Wives Club is all about the space race of the 1950s and 60s, but told through the eyes of the astronaut's wives. The club begins with the 9 wives of the Mercury program astronauts and branches off from there as the Gemini and Apollo programs are launched. These ladies were the first ever to be in their position, and the media treated them like movie stars - camping out on their lawns before launches and asking uncomfortable questions. NASA treated the astronaut's wives as the behind the scenes successes of their husbands - meaning that if the man did not have a good family relationship, he was not given a job in space. This put a crazy amount of pressure on these women to not allow their husbands to be stressed, as well as making them feel they should turn a blind eye to their extra marital activities.

I was a little underwhelmed by this book, but it may not be the book's fault. I'm starting to realize that I'm not a big fan of pseudo biographies in which the author compiles their information from research without having the subjects around to question. Some of the information given in this book seemed cliché and speculative. What I really would have enjoyed is actual accounts of the women themselves, not a laundry list of the things they did the day of the launch, quotes they gave the press, and what color dress they wore. If you just want to know the superficial lives of these women, this book will fill that need, but don't go into it expecting more than that. I think I just set myself up to not love it. That said, the book was written well and it was a quick little escape into a time I find very interesting. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

*Side note that really struck me when I found out this was a tv series and looked up photos from the show. What the heck, Hollywood? These amazing ladies weren't cool enough for you? You had to take a bunch of mothers that were in their early to mid thirties and replace them with some sex-pot 18 year old actresses? Great message to send to these amazing women.

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