Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book review: ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’

I heard about TheAstronaut Wives Club in a magazine shortly after it came out last year, so I was excited to read it when I finally bought it this summer. I’ve never really known much about the first astronauts, and the true story of their wives seemed like it would be really interesting.

First, I want to say that that part held true throughout the majority of the book. The Mercury Seven astronauts were the first group of men to be chosen to go to space, and it was a very big deal in an era when the U.S. was competing with the rest of the world to make advancements in space. The idea that these men were pioneering such a new and scary endeavor is fascinating. The part that many people won’t think about in relation to that is the story of their wives. It was the 1960s, and a time when women were expected to play the ultra-supportive, perfect wife role. This book shows how the wives were instructed that it was their “patriotic duty” to keep their husbands happy.

The stories were mostly interesting and insightful, showing how instantaneously they went from normal families to celebrities on the cover of Time magazine. It showed the stress of having the press peeking through their windows at all hours, the stress of not knowing if their husbands were coming home, the stress of knowing their husbands were being unfaithful while they still had to play the role of supportive wife. It was amazing to learn about how all these women pulled together and pushed away as they learned to cope with being astronaut wives.

However, I only gave Astronaut Wives Club three stars on Amazon because I hated (yes, truly hated) the author’s writing style. I’ve never read anything by Lily Koppel before, and I don’t think I ever will again, because I think she ruined what should have been an amazing, riveting story. Their were dozens of people to keep track of in this book. The original seven astronauts, plus their wives, then the new astronauts and their wives, and even more… So there were a bunch of names and stories going throughout the book. That’s confusing enough, but Koppel’s story moves from one person to another without any sort of flow or connection. It’s more of a general listing of facts than a novel, and I found it really distracting from the events of the story.

Overall, I would highly recommend reading about his subject, the astronauts and their wives — maybe even watch the TV show? I haven’t seen it, but it looks fun. This is definitely an interesting story, especially since it’s true and such a large part of American history. But I can’t recommend this particular book. It felt like something I had to get through more than a story I wanted to consume.

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