I never really thought that I would be all about a story about NASA. Not that I’m not interested, it’s just not the first thing that comes to mind when I want to read about a relationship. But when I think about the premise of this, which is someone from Mission Control falling mutually, secretly in love with an astronaut in flight, in space, over a few weeks, it’s pretty cool. And then I think of how a lot of stories have these smash-bang-rush up jobs for people falling in love in, like, a week or two, sometimes it’s like, all fluff and that’s nice and everything, and it was a good read, but I don’t really believe it. But here, they had only known each other for about 3 weeks never having met each other and I bought it.
Patrick Harte, the new CAPCOM, knows Curtis Larkin, the famous astronaut, because he’s the famous astronaut, but Curt only knows Patrick as the voice that replaced his previous CAPCOM, who is out on medical leave. They don’t get off to a good start because Patrick is kind of awestruck and beyond nervous because he’s an engineer, not emergency CAPCOM material and Curt is worried about his CAPCOM and isn’t ready to just trust this new one. After a bumpy start, they move on, trying to keep to a professional tone. Their wariness gives way to their true personalities and their interactions soon develop into a camaraderie and with that comes trust and understanding of a shared line of support because it is a life-and-death situation when you’ve got people up in space.
The pacing, the advances, the doubt, the slip ups, and the regressions make the outcome of their brief courtship believable. It was largely dependent on how all of the extra stuff that you usually have to go through to get to know somebody was kind of stripped away. They didn’t have all the nonsense. They are just there, just two voices in the dark, communicating across the distance, needing each other for different reasons and being there for each other. Curt wasn’t the only astronaut up there but their relationship was the focus of the story and it was well done.
Kay Simone put so much thought into representation in this book–very particular, too. She took the time to integrate various pieces of her characters into the story and avoided the flashy, in your face, this is representation for the sake of representation thing. One Giant Leap is a very carefully thought-out story that does well in being representational of life.
Both the staff on the ground and in space are primarily female. The space crew consists of Curt, the commander and the first openly bisexual astronaut, Amal, a transgender woman and her girlfriend, Carmen, a doctor. A male school teacher who has the most trouble adjusting to the lack of gravity and is down with space sickness for the first four days of the mission and a female pilot who’ll most like be commander on her next mission. There are multiple ethnicities and at least one of the characters is living a with an invisible disability.
There’s an array of representation and it is not like she went down the list and ticked off boxes so that she can make sure she can shove them in there. Also, the introduction of these things weren’t like a punch in your face when you discover that this person is who they are–you learn about these people, you get to know these things about them within the flow of the story. While most are simply in passing or are revealed by the nature of the scene, some are broadcast, but as the story is presented both in prose and via transcripts of interviews and reports, they’re still with in the flow. I feel like I can’t say it enough. It is so refreshing to see it come about that way. I love the way the story builds and how things are revealed and how we get to know the character and what we get to know about them and when we get to know it about them it’s just so… I couldn’t be happier with this book, I really couldn’t.
On top of all of that, One Giant Leap is, without a doubt, one of the most romantic books I’ve ever read. It is so lovely. Curt and Patrick are so cute together and things that happened in the story are just so beautiful. Even their struggles, even the problems that they go through and the things that come up about their past. It all comes together so well and I am fantastically pleased with this book because it was really, really, really beautiful.