Ever since a trip to Kennedy Space Center in 2006, I’ve loved reading about all things NASA. A few years ago my dad was helping organize a conference set to take place in 2012 and he was incredibly excited that Mark Kelly was going to be speaking. Unfortunately my dad passed away before the conference but a friend sent my mom a copy of Mark Kelly’s book Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope. My mom read the book and passed it on to me where I promptly let it sit on my nightstand for the next year and a half.
During a morning of jury duty I picked up the book and read 65 pages and then put it back down. My son was 6 months old at the time and reading wasn’t a top priority. As I am reading through the 2015 Pop Sugar Challenge I decided that I would finish the book as my “memoir” and I’m so glad I did!
The book opens up as Mark is preparing for STS-134, the final mission for the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The mission was to take place about 5 months after his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head at a local event she hosted as a congresswomen in Tuscon, Arizona.
Mark & Gabby tell the story of how they met, how they dated, when they got married & ultimately the biggest focus being on life after Gabby was shot. The book doesn’t sugar coat the events of January 8, 2011, nor does it sugar coat the long recovery process that Gabby will forever have to maintain.
While he continues to train for his mission, Gabby is recovering in a facility in Houston. Each day there are nurses & therapists who document the steps she is taking towards recovery. Mark Kelly is open and honest about the struggles he had with NASA and those who questioned his ability to command the space shuttle with Gabby still in rehab. He talks about the surgeries Gabby had, including the one that took place while he was up in space.
There are some great stories that he shares from how U2 had him help film a piece for their concert series to A Beautiful Day to meeting with Obama just hours after he gave the orders to capture Osama Bin Laden (unknowingly).
An ongoing theme throughout the book is “patience” as Mark talks about some of the days where Gabby has introduced him to that word. Mark talks about Gabby’s patience before she was shot and how he was able to use what he taught her after she was shot. From days at home where he had to have patience with Gabby’s progress to thousands of miles away when he was up on the International Space Station, Mark talks about each aspect of life that Gabby has helped him learn.
This book is a great read, not only for those who are struggling with a loved one who is sick, injured, etc. but for anyone looking for a story about true love. From long distance (very long distance) to life changing events Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords have seen their share of troubles. While they both admit they are far from perfect, this book shows the strength they both have to work together to get through the rough days.
One of their goals as they wrote this book together was for Gabby to write the last chapter. While it is short, it makes the point that she is on the road to recovery and getting better each day.
Ironically, I finished this book right as Mark Kelly announced his new book Astrotwins — Project Blastoff. While the book is geared towards 8-12 year old kids, I added it to my wish list because I think it will be a good one to pull out some day, especially when little man is older.
If you are interested in reading a memoir I would recommend this one. It was an easy read with some great stories. If memoir’s aren’t your thing I would skip over this as it is a very personal read.