With humor, detail, and suspense, Mike Massimino’s Spaceman (Crown Archetype 2016) takes the reader on a wild ride through NASA’s space program. First, though, Massimino introduces us to the world in which he grew up: a blue-collar ethnic community in Long Island. In this environment, Massimino didn’t see himself launching into a career as an astronaut. Scared of heights, hating water, and subject to vision problems, he seemed to embody what astronauts were not. Yet, as the years went on and Massimino’s studies of engineering deepened, he began looking into NASA’s program. Obstacles and failures leaped up in his path time and time again. But one day, he received the call from Johnson Space Center that changed his future.
I sped through this book, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Massimino’s writing style is engaging and lighthearted, and he really brings the process of becoming an astronaut to life for the reader. In fact, I started to feel a little claustrophobic at one point, when he was discussing all of the technical processes involved before takeoff! While I love movies about astronauts and space, I have never known much about the processes involved in getting up there. This book taught me so much about the programs and education required, while entertaining me with funny stories.
While Spaceman was excellent on this superficial level, I loved this book even more for the deep, intimate glimpse of the human person that it offered. Massimino reveals beautiful ways in which the community of astronauts is bound together in a loving, sacrificial community. He also discusses how seeing the Earth from space changed his outlook on life and the world:
“Everyone else around me sees the street in front of them and the buildings around them and none of that stuff is moving, but they look up and see the sun flying from east to west overhead. I walk down the same street and I know that sun is staying right where it is and it’s me and these buildings and this street and this planet that are spinning round and round and hurtling through the void. And the fact that that happens every day, the fact that we exist, is an astonishing thing.”
This is a fantastic book, and I recommend it to teenagers and adults who are interested in learning more about astronauts or those who love "human interest" stories of individuals overcoming insane circumstances and obstacles. I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.
~I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review~