2020 is turning out to be a disappointing year for books. I thought Erin Entrada Kelly's We Dream of Space was going to be my favourite book of the year but I just found it quite sad.
We Dream of Space takes place in the month leading up to the January 1986 Challenger launch. Three siblings in the Nelson Thomas household are coping with brewing hostilities at home. Fitch has severe anger issues, his twin sister Bird can take a Walkman apart and put it back together again and their older brother Cash is dealing with extreme feelings of failure after being kept back a grade at school. Only the magic of the upcoming Challenger launch keeps Bird together who in turn keeps the family together.
I love 80s nostalgia, as captured perfectly by Stranger Things and Jason Rekulak's Impossible Fortress, and expected We Dream of Space to capture that magical yet surreal time. We Dream of Space certainly focuses on a star-struck nation but other than an absence of mobile phones and some scenes in a games arcade, there is little else about 80s culture and sentiments in the book.
But of course, We Dream of Space focuses around a very significant event in history. Drawn in by the beautiful blue cover and title, I expected dreams, exploration and the space endeavour but this was the opposite of inspiring, and despite the space travel theme, definitely not uplifting. I knew my habit of judging books by their pretty covers would come back to haunt me one day. We Dream of Space was a very depressing and realistic story about invisible Generation X kids, a broken family and a series of disappointments.
I'm aware that this review has more to do with my expectations and enjoyment of the book and less about the book itself, which isn't entirely fair. There was good character development and Erin Entrada Kelly did well to capture the three unique points of view of the Nelson Thomas siblings.
I also enjoyed Ramon de Ocampo's narration on the audiobook version. He did a great job of capturing all three voices of the Nelson Thomas Children.
Overall, We Dream of Space was well-written but quite sad. I give it an okay three out of five stars.