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Space by Jesse Lee Kercheval
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Space (1998)

by Jesse Lee Kercheval

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42. Space : A Memoir by Jesse Lee Kercheval (1998, 278 pages, read July 18 - 25)

Kercheval writes about growing up in central Florida in the 1960's, in the shadow of NASA's race to the moon. It's doesn't help that her parents have their own problems and her mother disappears more and more while Kercheval and her older sister make their way through grade school and puberty and all that. As a memoir, it's sad and wonderful. Here is an excerpt from after her first and late discovery of what sex is:

It was more than that. It was as if the whole world had only been pretending certain things were important—science, art, politics, religion—when actually everyone was only interested in one thing, something not on that list. Sex. All the books I'd been reading without really understanding (War and Peace, The Sun Also Rises, the James Bond novels I'd snuck from my dad) were really all about sex. Everyone was having sex. Everyone except me. ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Aug 27, 2012 |
With remarkable detail, Kercheval (The Museum of Happiness, LJ 10/15/93) writes of growing up in Florida near Cape Kennedy. The rumble of rockets punctuates her encounters with boys, alcohol and other drugs, prejudice, a mother on valium, friendships, and other facets of life. In school she sees a film called The Wonderful Thing That Is Going To Happen to You Once a Month, and at the Cape she sees "Gus Grissom's sad dog-brown eyes" shortly before Grissom is killed. Her family slowly disintegrates, much like the space program, but just as man reaches the moon, she and her sister survive. The space program appears only as a thematic device?this is a lively coming-of-age tale, the creation of a personal space. Eventually Kercheval discovers that her childhood penchant for lying could turn a profit?she became a successful writer and professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her memoir will be of interest to public and academic libraries.?Nancy P. Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, N.C.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. (Library Journal)
  CollegeReading | Jun 20, 2008 |
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A memoir of Jesse Lee Kercheval's life as a young girl coming of age in the 60s and 70s. Against the backdrop of the space race, the Vietnam war, poverty, women's rights, the drug culture, Cuban refugees, and civil rights, Jesse and her sister step up to keep their family from falling apart.… (more)

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