Space: A Memoir

Overview


Jesse Lee Kercheval opens her story in Cocoa, Florida, in 1966 as a precocious ten-year-old whose family—father, mother, two little girls—is trying to ride the Space Race’s tide of optimism. But even as the rockets keep going up, the Kercheval family slowly spirals down.
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Overview


Jesse Lee Kercheval opens her story in Cocoa, Florida, in 1966 as a precocious ten-year-old whose family—father, mother, two little girls—is trying to ride the Space Race’s tide of optimism. But even as the rockets keep going up, the Kercheval family slowly spirals down.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A sweetly honest memoir of a girl growing up amid the glare of the rocket launches from Cape Canaveral. . . . [A] coming-of-age story, but punctuated by the romance and thunder of rockets entering space.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An incandescent girlhood memoir. . . . So lyrical and poignant are the events it chronicles, it is hard to believe that it wasn't all by design.”—Booklist (starred review)

“A devastatingly honest, relentlessly unsentimental portrait of [the author’s] childhood. . . . A quietly powerful personal history.”—Jacqueline Boone, New York Times Book Review

“A story of the 1960s and 1970s as seen through the eyes of a bright and introspective girl.”—School Library Journal

Miami Herald
Kercheval was an obsessive fan of the U.S. space program. Her sweet and gentle memoir will evoke tremors of nostalgia.
VOYA - Susan R. Farber
By an ironic coincidence, I, like Kercheval, also was at a Girl Scout camp when the first man landed on the moon. However, unlike Kercheval, I did not grow up in "Space country"-near Cape Kennedy, Florida, home to giant mosquitoes and government contracts. Through the eyes of a child, readers experience the excruciating detail of long, hot, sticky days; growing up lip-synching to the Beatles; the ever-present racism of the South; and the growing alienation between a drug-dependent mother, and Jesse and her sister, Carol, two years older. It is Carol who insists that the family properly celebrate holidays and observe proprieties, while Jesse races down sand dunes barefoot, falls out of trees and spends time in a body cast, and finally, at seventeen, marries a sweet, sincere, long-haired theology student. As her family falls apart amidst the roar of the rockets heading to space, Kercheval muses, "My life was another NASA disaster. You flip a switch and, boom, the mission goes bad. You are just stuck there, the oxygen running lower and lower, the moon and the earth impossibly far away, nothing outside but nothing." With honesty, leavening humor, and beautifully styled writing, Kercheval's memoir touches a chord deep within the reader and resonates like a bell. Give this one to your older teens and put it on all those awful required reading lists under the "Biography" heading, and then wait for them to thank you. Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
A story of the `60s and `70s as seen through the eyes of a bright and introspective girl. As the book begins, the 40-year-old author describes the family photos she has just received from her sister. From here, she takes readers back to her childhood and to her family's move to the Cape Canaveral area of Florida in 1966. The space program was in full gear and Jesse was caught up in the excitement. The space race, Vietnam, poverty, women's rights, the drug culture, Cuban refugees, civil rights, and divorce all touched Jesse's life, and she skillfully handles her evolving perceptions. At 10, she was a keen observer but did not always understand the whys of a situation. At 16, she understood her family's difficulties all too well. Her mother's sacrifices for her husband, including having to give up a job she loved because of the move, caused disappointment to turn into depression and her doctor prescribed valium just as the young people in the neighborhood began to dabble in and deal illegal drugs. Jesse's sister tried to hold the family together. It could not be done; but all was not lost. Life limped on. Kercheval's narrative style artfully takes readers through the years with Jesse, enabling them to view situations as she did as she matured. Space is a family's coming-of-age story. -- Nancy Karst, Fairfax County Public Library, Virginia
Chicago Tribune
Growing up on Florida's Space Coast in the late '60s and early '70s wasn't all fun and games....Kercheval's engaging narrative...tells it as it was...with warmth and humor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299300241
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/2014
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author


Jesse Lee Kercheval was born in France and raised in Florida. She is the author of thirteen books of poetry, fiction, and memoir including the novels The Museum of Happiness and My Life as a Silent Movie and the writing text Building Fiction. The Sally Mead Hands Professor of English, she teaches creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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