First one in the ‘books’ for 2018! Thanks to no plans for New Year’s Eve, I was glued to this all last night, and then finished it basically at the 24 hour mark. And it was a Christmas present from a friend! I’ve already stuck to my first book resolution: read from my huge stack of books I own!
AND it was a good one! ‘Dare Mighty Things’ is a story about a competition between a group of the brightest and bravest young people vying for a spot on a top-secret space mission funded by NASA a few decades from now, and it’s only at the very end of the book that it’s revealed what the actual mission is.
Cassandra (Cassie) Gupta isn’t your usual storybook ‘heroine’ either, and I enjoyed following her character and getting to know her; she’s 18, Indian-American, is one of the first wave of ‘designer babies’, super smart, and athletic, and ever since she can remember, her dream has been to go into space. All the way through the book, I couldn’t help but think about how I’m kind of in awe of ANYone who has that drive to go through what it takes to test for and train to go into space, because it has to be a VERY intense drive. You see this from the many characters in the book, not just Cassie. She starts to develop friends as she goes through the program, something that’s pretty new to her, as she now has found a place where she ‘fits in’. So this story has elements of not only this ‘big picture’ (in this case, a HUGE ONE, ie Space) that she is finding her place in, but one where the main character Cassie is newly discovering what it means to develop bonds with others, at the same time as pushing oneself and persevering to achieve a long-held dream. At times it’s intense, and at others, very self-reflective.
The writing in this book was never a struggle to read, even with all the quasi-tech lingo, and (author) Heather Kaczynski's love of space flight is obvious when you read this book; it’s hard not to get excited, and a bit terrified, for the mission. Now that I have read to the end and know that it’s a duology (I must read the upcoming 2nd book to know what on Earth, haha) is going to happen. There’s definitely a lot more to come!
This was an incredible book to finish 2017 with. After a number of mediocre reads this year, I laughed and I cried along with Sarah Pullen and her family, as her beautiful, vivacious son, Silas, battled with an aggressive brain tumour. Sadly, after battling 'Bob' for nearly two years, he eventually lost the fight, leaving the family devastated, and struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives.
One thing that struck me in the early chapters was the comment that the survival rate for cancer patients is greatly enhanced by being proactive; by researching and pushing for the newest, most up-to-date treatments available. Sarah fought for her son with everything she had, finding alternative treatments and symbiotic drug combinations, even putting him on a form of cannabis for a while.
She also discusses whether a child should be told that s/he is dying. She now wishes that they had had this conversation with Silas.
Finally, she talks about the reactions of friends and family. Death has become a taboo subject in today's world and people did not know how to react to the family. Some penned letters and cards, others texted, or called in, but those who upset her most were the ones who said and did nothing and behaved as if nothing had happened.
This is a brave book, written from the heart and sympathetically narrated by Antonia Beamish. To quote the author, “It’s about Silas and who he was, his personality, the things that drove us nuts, and what made him laugh and cry – all those things which I don’t want us and the boys to forget." She hopes that it will help other families who must follow a similar path, to support them and direct their questions, while helping them feel less alone.