Keeper of the Flame
by JoAnn Petrie Carr

"She couldn’t accept the possibility that he might not fly after all they’d sacrificed. She wouldn’t accept it. Something would happen. It had to."

At the grand climax of the space race, when the United States is preparing its Apollo series of lunar flights, astronauts become overnight celebrities in the American conscience. While many can rattle off the names of the members of each flight crew, at home, their wives and children sacrifice much in the name of science and progress. Jennifer Davis is the wife of Evan Davis, a Marine Corps pilot whose sole motivation is to be selected for one of the remaining Apollo missions. Dealing with her four children, an absentee husband always off training, and the social change of the 1960s that calls her to her own destiny, Jennifer struggles between loyalty to her husband’s dreams and her own needs. Caught between her personal heart and her love for her husband, Jennifer must find herself while her husband prepares to leave the planet for a month.

Carr is in a completely unique situation: giving a fictional account of circumstances that she herself lived as an astronaut’s wife. The danger and isolation of such a situation jump out at the reader in a tale packed with details of the era. The author sets up Jennifer nicely as a figure the reader empathizes with regardless of her circumstances. Though she has dreams of establishing her independence and starting a career of her own, she never does so selfishly, never neglecting her children, and always wanting first and foremost to bring Evan into her plans. Considerate and determined, Jennifer exudes a strength that all readers can admire, and her character is a delight to experience throughout the story. Full of history both known and untold about life in the golden age of NASA, this book humanizes the long effort to explore space.

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