Books by Grace George Corrigan

Released: Sept. 7, 1993

Well-intentioned but bland biography of the high-school social-studies teacher who died in the Challenger space shuttle explosion, written by her mother. The only electricity here flows at the outset, as Corrigan remembers her preflight fears (``We could see icicles hanging from the shuttle. How could they lift off like this?'') and her husband's postdisaster fury (she quotes him as writing that McAuliffe died ``because of NASA and its egos, marginal decisions, ignorance, and irresponsibility''). Otherwise, this is an affectionate but artless memoir in which Corrigan recalls her daughter as ``the girl next door'' who ``never sat back and just existed'' but instead became a national hero through pluck and hard work. Christa's story is pure Americana: apple-pie family; solid religious upbringing; Girl Scouts; marriage to her high-school sweetheart; teaching career. She loved plants, pets, and kids, and led an ordinary life—until she beat out 11,500 other applicants to become the Teacher in Space, and proved to be an outstanding spokeswoman for education, equally at ease with Johnny Carson and Ronald Reagan. Rigorous training ensued—and then the debacle. Corrigan winds up with postexplosion events: memorial services; tributes; establishment of the Christa McAuliffe Institute for Educational Pioneering (to promote better teaching) and the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. Largely inconsequential (typical McAuliffe letter, quoted by Corrigan: ``Steven painted the kitchen cabinets bright yellow and I made orange and yellow flowered curtains''); noteworthy mostly as a mother's farewell. (Thirty-two b&w photographs—not seen) Read full book review >