Friday, May 23, 2008

The Time it Takes to Fall by Margaret Lazarus Dean

Dolores had never imagined that life in Cape Canaveral could be anything but perfect. She loves the launches, the broadcasts, her family, her friends, and knows everything there is to know about space. She keeps a journal of every launch, dutifully recording all of the relevant facts in order to further her dreams of becoming an astronaut, confirming the details with her NASA technician father and her best friend, Eric. She's the best in her class, her teachers love her, and, most importantly, she's happy. But without warning, everything changes. When her father is fired, Dolores' mother has to go to work, coming home every day too exhausted to do anything but argue. As if that weren't enough, Dolores enters high school a year early, finding herself among older strangers who tease her for her intelligence. And the worst is yet to come, because although Dolores doesn't know it yet, the Challenger launch is fast approaching and soon she'll be forced to face her greatest nightmare.

Although it starts out slow, The Time it Takes to Fall proves worth the wait. Margaret Dean has created a masterful first novel, certainly an example of historical fiction at its best. While most first time authors would focus on the effects of the Challenger tragedy on a would-be astronaut, Dean instead writes about characters-- unique, lovable, characters -- who are all entirely, believably human. These characters connect the reader to the book, and even the most unenthusiastic reader will find him- or herself sympathizing as he or she is drawn into their lives. A reluctant historical fiction reader myself, I found that I was actually guessing what would happen next! The plot never falters, and the characters only get stronger as the story goes on. This is one book that's certainly worth a read!

Although parts of the book seem to be geared toward younger readers, there is a sex scene and a rather frightening description of the deaths of the Challenger astronauts. Many characters smoke.

Reviewer Age:15

Reviewer City, State and Country: , Maryland United States