Have you ever heard of the “Mercury 13”? Neither had I, until I discovered the book, Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Stone. This book tells the extraordinary story of 13 female aviators who attempted to become the first group of women to enter space during a time when women were thought of as just pretty housewives. The story takes place in the early 1960’s, and although I know things were much different then, I was astounded to read about how these capable pilots faced discrimination just because they were women.
Many people opposed even the idea of training women to be astronauts, so when testing began to see if the “Mercury 13” could endure the challenge of space flight, things were kept top secret. I think you will be as shocked as I was to read about the different tests these 13 women went through to prove females have what it takes to enter space. One test that sent chills up my spine was freezing water injected into the inner ear, causing vertigo. They also had to do things like drink radioactive water and float in an isolation tank for 9 ½ hours! They passed the tests with flying colors, but once word got out, people were outraged. The perspective remained that women belonged at home and not in space.
You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what happens, but I will tell you that the situation becomes a fight for equal rights and brings out many injustices. I really enjoyed this book because it’s a true story about women daring to dream. This story also revealed to me a valuable lesson about daring to dream and that is: A dream can come true in many different ways, sometimes not the way one envisions it, but almost always, the courage to dream brings forth some sort of inspiration and hope, for ourselves and others. So live your dream and be inspired by this amazing book!
~Reviewed by Ms. Shelley Olin