Houston….we have a problem.

Challenger Park

Lucy is an astronaut with the space program, mother of two small children one with chronic asthma, and wife of Brian, also an astronaut, whom after blundering his last mission, has been reduced to desk work.  This book is about Lucy getting her first mission in space, her floundering marriage, her subsequent affair with her flight instructor, and her struggle trying to manage roles as a career woman and a mom.  Got it?  Good.

Now, what first attracted me to this book was the whole space/astronaut factor.  I mean, these people must lead interesting lives right? Especially a husband and wife team with a few kids to boot.  The whole concept seemed interesting to me, and I wanted to have a glimpse into their world.  That being said, the book alone was not all that good.  I have very conflicting emotions about it.  On one hand, I thought it was just not all that well written.  The language was very stale and it did not succeed in keeping me engaged between dialogues.  I fought the urge to skim between “action scenes” the entire book.  For me there was no real beauty in the writing.  There is a but coming, keep reading.

BUT…on the other hand.  The theme of the book really resonated with me.

“The setting may be out of this world, but Challenger Park is really a rather old-fashioned feminist story about a smart, ambitious woman torn between her career and her family. You don’t need to be an astronaut to endure “the anxiety-ridden wonder of motherhood.” And anyone who drops a child off at day care can sympathize with Lucy when she feels “like she was cutting corners in a part of her life where compromise should never be considered.”  *

(Rant Warning) You see, I think I’ve been going through some sort of thirtyish feminist crisis lately.  I love my kids and family life, but I miss my independence and the freedom to make selfish choices.  I’m a working mom so I am away from home all day and am bombarded as soon as I get home by two ravenous boys, the extra curricular activities that they will need to be transported to, and a slew of household chores.  I don’t mind the hungry kids, or being their event planner, but I hate the fucking chores.  I swear to God, if I never had to see another piece of laundry again, it would be too soon.  Hire a housekeeper…love to, but it doesn’t really fit into the ol’ budget.  Get my hubby to help out….oh, don’t even go there! 

The real issue I have is the same one that Lucy had in the story.  Her dream her whole life was to go to space, and when she gets that chance she can’t even enjoy it because she’s so emotionally tied to her family on Earth.  I think it’s women that really struggle with this, not men.  Men can separate the two worlds, no problem.  Is it really possible for us to feel fulfilled at work and at home at the same time, or will we always be teetering on some sort of working mom see-saw.  OK, I better stop before I start threatening to burn my bra, or my spanx or something.

Anyway, I think Harrigan kind of nails this inner conflict, which deserves props because, he’s like…a man.

“…but what’s more impressive ultimately is his knowledge of the conflicted feelings of a woman struggling to figure out what matters to her most. “Why would any mother,” Lucy thinks in a moment of crippling self-doubt, “voluntarily leave her child to travel to such a place, a place that was as blank as death, and in whose perfect soundlessness his cries to her were sure to go unheard?” The gravity of that question has weighed down women since they first dared to look up. ”  *

So there you have it.  Would I recommend this?  I don’t know.  It’s neither good nor bad.  I thought alot about it for a long time and I have certainly enjoyed writing about it.  I’ll let you figure it out on your own. It’s your call.


4 Responses to “Houston….we have a problem.”

  1. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one. I have it and will get to it one of these days.

  2. While I enjoyed reading your review, I certainly don’t need anything else to make me feel guilty about being a working Mom! I’m struggling with how I can justify working full time after baby #3 is born because how in the world can I juggle three kids under 4 and be a good lawyer? I’m organized, but seriously is it worth it? It is an interesting theme, because we were told to go out and get an education, don’t rely on a man to support you, follow your dreams, blah, blah, blah. Never would I have imagined that in doing that, I would have to sacrifice such a precious time in my children’s lives or that I would feel guilty for doing so. Oh yeah, I hate the chores too, and doesn’t help that I’m a bit OCD about my house being clean and that is my primary reason for not hiring a housekeeper. They would never do it like I do it! Ugh!

  3. Illiana – I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    Michelle – I know…It’s difficult. As far as the housekeeper goes, I’m not so OCD, I could work with just about anyone who would be willing to help. Desperate times call for desperate measure. Really enjoyed chatting with you the other night.

  4. This has been on my TBR list since Bookmarks recommended it. Thanks for your great review. I think I’ll still read it, because the feminist issues speak to me as well. I work part time and my husband full time. I remember when the kids were born and I was staying home that I was jealous when he would get to leave for work in the morning. But later I realized if I was the one working, I wouldn’t be able to pull off the carefree way he does it!! I guess it’s just part of our makeup — guys can walk out in the morning and focus on work guilt-free all day. Even if they are great dads. Guilt is born with your child. What a bummer. 🙂

    That being said, I do love being a mom. 🙂

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