by Roy D. Bridges Jr. ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2022
A sublime scrapbook tribute to an unexpected career in orbit.
Awards & Accolades
A debut memoir focuses on a venturesome Southern farm boy who fulfilled a lifelong dream to explore space as an astronaut.
From his earliest days, decorated military veteran and retired astronaut Bridges had an undeniably adventurous spirit. His book, split into three sections, first explores his quest to learn everything about space travel during an inquisitive youth, then his full immersion in the NASA program, and, finally, his emergence as a key leader in numerous Air Force interstellar projects. Beginning at age 5, the author displayed a lively imagination and explorative spirit as he scoured the forests around his suburban Georgia home in search of bears and buried treasure. Born during World War II, Bridges writes fondly of his early life as the son of a registered nurse mother and a father formerly enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Though the family was preoccupied with work, this aspect afforded the shy author and his sister, Eva Mae, many opportunities for “testing boundaries” even after they relocated to his beloved grandparents’ tobacco farm. In high school, Bridges developed an affinity for science and engineering, marveling at how Soviet space explorers launched an artificial satellite into an elliptical low Earth orbit. With his family’s immense support, he decided to pursue a career in space travel: “I didn’t care how improbable that might be. I saw it as my great adventure.” His strenuous years training at the Air Force Academy provide plenty of stories of camaraderie, cadet scandals, and his marriage to his first love, Benita, in 1967 (they are still together). After flying fighter jets in the Vietnam War, he saw his career trajectory soar, spanning intensive training in pilot school with rocket-powered aircraft, working at the Pentagon, and becoming a NASA astronaut candidate.
In his early 40s, after raising two children with his wife, Bridges accepted a prestigious offer to pilot the Challenger Spacelab 2 shuttle mission in 1985. This climactic event becomes the memoir’s capstone and is narrated in exacting detail, providing a riveting account of his time manning the craft as it shot into space despite a terrifying episode of engine failure. His career would climb even higher in the Air Force before the author retired in 1996. Though the impressively written book needs no embellishment, Bridges’ story is further enhanced with generous personal photographs illustrating the many pivotal moments of his momentous career. There are shots of Bridges immersed in a water buoyancy spacewalker simulator; near the combat jets he piloted; with the Spacelab 2 crew; and during his stint as an Air Force major general, perhaps his crowning achievement. In this obvious labor of love, Bridges, at 79, reflects on a life lived to the fullest, with many dreams accomplished and countless boundaries and obstacles conquered. While he shares a somewhat overwhelming amount of detail throughout his impassioned self-portrait, what will resonate most with readers of all ages is the author’s fearless spirit and perseverance in achieving seemingly insurmountable goals. Even readers with just a casual interest in space travel and interstellar exploration will find much to savor in this admirable, inspiring, and heartfelt account. The memoir proves that with enough drive and determination, anything is possible.A sublime scrapbook tribute to an unexpected career in orbit.
Pub Date: May 17, 2022
Page Count: 446
Publisher: Heart Ally Books
Review Posted Online: May 20, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Britney Spears ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 24, 2023
Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.
Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023
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by Barbra Streisand ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.
When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 992
Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023
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