What I’m Reading June 2015


I felt ambitious at the library last month and took home five books (still working on the final two). With a holiday weekend and staycation in July, I figured I would have some free time. And I think that free time has been spent very wisely, making sure I avoid library fines.

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

I know very little about Niagara Falls. In fact, when I think of the Falls, I think of Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty and Pam and Jim in The Office.

This novel broadened my narrow horizon on the dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls starting in 1915. The author was born and raised in Niagara Falls and weaves the lore of William “Red” Hill, Niagara’s most famous riverman, in this work of historical fiction.

My task: Niagara Falls is quite a distance from me, so to experience the water, I plan to visit a local waterfall. Photo evidence to come soon, or it didn’t happen.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law picked this book for their book club and let me in on their secret (thanks, Emily!). I was a fan of Sullivan’s The Engagements, and was interested to see her other work.

All families have their drama, but nothing compares to the Kelleher family. The story is told through three generations, and more can be understood of their present day attitudes after learning of their past, but there’s so much dysfunction it’s hard to sympathize with anyone. It’s a fun beach read, or more like a vacation read because it’s a little on the long side. After wading through all the heartache and drama, I do have to say I was very pleased with its ending.

My task: To experience the New England food, I’m on the hunt for a lobster roll, Pacific Northwest style.

A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley

I was looking for something a little light to read around some heavy historical fiction, and my eyes were attracted to this cover.

Of World War II, one of the topics I could never tire of learning more about are the Japanese internment camps set up under Executive Order 9066. It’s crazy to think my family would have been interned had we been here during that time. My grandmother lived through the war in Japan.

I was hoping for light read, but this was anything but. The story is centered around a half-Japanese teen, who suffers more loss before the age of 20 than most anyone suffers in a lifetime.

About 350 pages in, hope is finally introduced! And it certainly ends well.

My task: I’m planning to attend the Asian American Journalist Association’s national convention in San Francisco next month with my dad!


What I’m Reading Wednesday

astronaut-wives-clubBefore reality TV stars, there were astronaut wives. During the space race of the 1950s-1970s, the lives of the women married to astronauts played out in the public eye, splashed across covers of LIFE magazine and live interviews on TV sets.

Troubled marriages and infidelity were hidden from the public eye, painting a portrait of all-American families sending their men into space.

Lily Koppel’s book “The Astronaut Wives Club” captures the women behind the men who made history. The ones who took care of everything while their husbands were guinea pigs in the untested waters of spacecraft. Sometimes their astronaut didn’t return, and the wives were the ones who rallied together to hold each other up.

The biography highlights The Mercury Seven (NASA’s first spacemen in 1959), The New Nine (second group of astronauts announced 1962 and the next phase of the space program: Gemini) and The Fourteen (third group announced 1963. Includes Gemini and Apollo moon missions).

For The Original Seven, as their military test pilot flying husbands went through the rigorous examinations and testing to become one of the country’s first astronauts, the wives painted a “Leave it to Beaver” appearance of their family, even if it was far from it. They feared if the men didn’t have a stable home life, they would be grounded from space missions and passed up by someone else who would write their names into history.

It was amazing to read of all the couples within The Mercury Seven, The New Nine and The Fourteen, only seven ultimately stayed together.

The women remained stoic during launches, during lost communication signals, during times of distress (“Houston, we have a problem”) and when their astronaut didn’come home. Thanks to Koppel’s research and interviews, the astronaut  wives are telling their stories and receiving their time in the spotlight.

Some of it was glorious, like meeting the Kennedys, and some of it was gritty, like looking the other way when a husband was caught cheating.

I read “The Astronaut Wives Club” during Women’s History Month, to learn of the brave women who stood by their astronauts, but were pushed to the background by their rock star status.

Even some of the astronauts whose own accomplishments fill history books, have spoken up to say their wives deserve to have their own story told and Koppel did just that.