A middle grade about three siblings and a girl who wants to go to space? What more could I want! I’ve been meaning to read a book by Erin Entrada Kelly for ages now. That’s why I’m so excited to be finally reading We Dream of Space. This historical fiction middle grade is about family, dreams, and siblings. Keep reading this book review to find out my full thoughts on this STEM girl story.
It’s January 1986. The launch of the Challenger is just weeks away, and Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware.
Cash loves basketball, Dr. J, and a girl named Penny; he’s also in danger of failing seventh grade for a second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing.
The Nelson Thomas siblings exist in their own orbits, circling a tense, crowded, and unpredictable household, dreaming of escape, dreaming of the future, dreaming of space. They have little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga—a failed applicant to the Teacher in Space program—who encourages her students to live vicariously through the launch. Cash and Fitch take a passive interest, but Bird builds her dreams around it.
When the fated day arrives, it changes everything.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
We Dream of Space is a historical fiction middle grade about three siblings and a world holding their breath. Before the launch of the Challenger, the world wonders what space means to each of us. What might it represent – to travel to space? Given the title, you can imagine that Kelly examines how each of the siblings, Cash, Fitch, and Bird feel about space. But even more so, Kelly explores the dreams and fears of each of them. It’s a story about these siblings and the ‘spaces’ which inhabit their dreams.
Siblings & Bird
Told through the perspectives of each sibling, readers are able to see how each of them navigate their own struggles. While I loved reading about Cash, Fitch, and Bird in We Dream of Space, Bird stole the show. Before I talk about Bird, let me talk about Cash and Fitch. There were moments in each of their stories that took my breath away. Like when Cash thinks he’s not good at anything and has to come to terms with the fact that he may be kept behind another year in school. Or when Fitch finds himself spewing poison and hurt, but we don’t know how to stop us from unleashing that cruelty.
Now let me talk about why I love Bird. She’s caring, curious, and vulnerable. Struggling to figure out if she’s “just smart” and the ways that society reduces women from an early age, Bird charmed my entire heart. I loved all of her chapters and had to stop myself from skipping ahead to her chapters. The ways that Bird can sense when a storm in her family is coming, the exact moment to try to avert the crisis, made my heart ache. And she’s such a curious and intelligent STEM passionate girl who I just want to be able to reach the stars.
We Dream of Space is an emotional middle grade story about figuring out our family. About seeing our own paths and navigating the orbit of our family. The dynamics of her parents, and the ways their words create holes in kid’s armor, was heart wrenching. You know those moments of fear before an explosion, the necessity to defuse situations. It reminds me of how perceptive children are. We Dream of Space was beautiful in the way that Kelly is able to encompass so many emotions through these siblings. But Bird certainly stole the show for me and I loved reading her story.