Mary Sherman Morgan’s life and contribution to the space race are important and should be fascinating. Four stars for a previously untold story that was so much fun to learn about. Two stars for execution.
I think what’s so hard about writing your own mother’s story is that George Morgan hasn’t decided yet if he’s going to go deep into the science and the political ramifications, excoriate his grandparents for their awfulness, or have a catharsis over his mother’s coldness to the children during his childhood as a result of her likely OCD. Any one of these would have made a gripping story. Or three separate sections of the same book. Instead, he dribbles between them all, including some weird stuff about Werner von Braun being just a misunderstood guy who just wanted to make rockets work (and not a Nazi).
To be fair, he is a playwright and, I bet, his play is good. There is a lot of fictionalized dialog and made-up thoughts inside the heads of real people. I have never been a fan of that in my non-fiction. When I read in his author’s note that he also invented characters and made up names for people whose names had been withheld, I found I couldn’t get past it.