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Saturday, December 26, 2020

MG Challenger Novel a Liked-It-Didn't-Love-It Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties.

Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing. 

The Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project—they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.

Told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Space is an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle grade readers.  (Plot summary from publisher)

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly is an atmospheric novel that highlights an important historical event that I haven't seen addressed in fiction before.  Kelly uses enough detail to vividly recreate the 80's for her 21st Century audience and capture the Challenger-inspired fervor that I remember well, although I was only 10 when the shuttle launched.  These are the elements I enjoyed most in the novel, especially since I found it difficult to connect with the Thomas children.  They all seemed cold, self-absorbed, and just not very likable.  Plotwise, there's not tons going on in We Dream of Space, so it dragged a little bit for me.  While I was particularly moved by Kelly's depiction of the characters' reactions in the immediate aftermath of the Challenger explosion, overall, this book was definitely a liked-it-didn't-love-it read for me.  Too bad.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)

Grade:



If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for difficult subject matter (Challenger explosion, dysfunctional families, anger, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

1 comment:

  1. too bad this wasn't fantastic. I remember that day in January when the Challenger disaster happened (my dad's birthday).

    ReplyDelete

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