Bracketed by two gripping present-tense accounts of the Challenger's last minutes on January 28, 1986, a crisp but sympathetic biography of the dedicated crew member who was both the first American woman and the first Jew in space. Although the authors report that ""Judy didn't want to be known as a Jewish astronaut. Or a woman astronaut. She wanted to be just an astronaut,"" they emphasize the details of her Jewish upbringing in Akron, where she was a star student, a gifted musician, and a teen-ager rebellious enough to go to considerable lengths to conceal a relationship with an unscholarly Irish-Arab. The book is well balanced for its audience, with enough telling episodes from Resnik's school and college years to give readers the sense of an intimate acquaintance with this exceptionally gifted, ambitious young woman. Her graduate-school years and astronaut training are touched on more lightly, but there is a fairly detailed description of her duties and particular mission as an astronaut. After recapping the tragedy and its immediate aftermath, the authors quote John Glenn (""There is no better way to celebrate her life than to celebrate the cause for which she gave it"") and summarize NASA's recent revival of the space program. A compelling, well-shaped portrait of a uniquely memorable individual.