Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Time It Takes to Fall-Margaret Lazarus Dean

The Time It Takes to Fall
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Simon & Schuster, Feb 2008, $24.00
ISBN: 0743297229

By the 1980s everyone who lives in the towns that make up Florida’s "Space Coast" understands that NASA is the prime employee. All working adults either are employed by NASA or provide services to NASA’s employees. Most of the young like preadolescent student Dolores Gray dream of becoming astronauts or space engineers.

Delores’ father moved here in 1965, but insists the space exploration ended abruptly in 1972 as Nixon had no vision. By late 1985 in spite of her dad’s negativity and that most of her peers admired teacher in space astronaut Christa McAuliffe, Delores wants to one day be just like her heroine mission specialist Judith Resnick. However, funding is cut for the agency as another no visionary sits in the White House; NASA has to RIF employees like Delores’ dad, which propels her parents’ marriage into a tailspin until her mom leaves. Then on 28 January 1986, the Challenger explodes.

An interesting coming of age tale; what keeps THE TIME IT TAKES TO FALL entertaining is 1980s NASA Florida vividly described with a royal pyramidal hierarchy while rocket science is made simple and comprehensible without dumbing it down. The family crisis pales next to space science and space disaster. Still Margaret Lazarus Dean provides a fascinating look at Space Coast Florida circa 1985-86.

Harriet Klausner

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