Saturday, August 9, 2008

Out There by Diane Fanning

I'm sure most people heard about the astronaut love triangle and the former Shuttle astronaut who drove from Texas to Florida to confront the woman who had taken her lover's attention. That is the story that Diane Fanning tells in this book.

If you enjoy true crime and haven't read any Diane Fanning books, I highly recommend that you pick one up. This book is very good too.

She begins by recounting the confrontation we heard about in the news. That was the part of the story we all knew. Former shuttle astronaut drives to Florida to meet up with a woman who had captured the heart of her boyfriend. Two astronauts and a woman in the Air Force were involved and Lisa Nowak's arrest photo certainly didn't look like her NASA photos.

After recounting the news information, Diane takes us back to meet a very driven young girl who always dreamed of going into space. She watched the monumental mountains in US space history in the late 1960's and she wanted to go to space. In the 1960's that was a far off dream for any woman. Fanning tells us about much of NASA history and some military history as it related to women being permitted to fly.

We come along on the journey as Lisa Marie Caputo strives for excellence and pushes herself toward that dream. She graduates from high school and goes to the Naval Academy. There she meets her future husband Richard Nowak.

The family move all over the country, but each stage of their lives brings Lisa closer and closer to NASA. In the mean time, space travel is changing and eventually woman are being accepted into the astronaut program. We watch as Lisa learns of the Challenger explosion and as she wonders if the space program will continue in the US. Her dream gets so close before she loses friends in another shuttle disaster.

I really enjoyed how Fanning shares the internal and external forces that push Lisa Nowak as she marches toward her dream of going to space. No matter what happens in Lisa's world, she keeps that positive face for the world, but inside the cracks are starting to show.

Her good friend Bill Oefelein becomes her lover and although her marriage is still together, his marriage ends when his wife learns about the affair. But, over time, Bill's romantic interests change and he becomes involved with Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman. We learn that Bill eventually told Lisa that their romance was over, but his actions sent her mixed signals.

Diane Fanning gives us insights from many perspectives and many inspects into the lives of astronauts before, during and after space travel. I learned many things about NASA and the space program that I never knew and these details certainly added to the story. For anyone who would like to learn about the people behind the headlines in this bizarre case, I highly recommend Out There by Diane Fanning.

Nikki Leigh

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