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Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space

Review

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space

In SALLY RIDE, award-winning broadcaster Lynn Sherr tells the touching and inspiring life story of the first woman in space. She writes from a different perspective than most biographers --- that of a personal friend. The two met in 1981 when Sherr, a correspondent for ABC News, joined a team of journalists covering NASA’s space program. The two instantly hit it off and spent many happy times together before Sally’s death in 2012.

Although she was an astronaut, Sally Ride was a scientist at heart. She never lost her love and devotion to the world of science, making every attempt to excite people around the world --- especially children --- about the possibilities of science in general and space exploration in particular. To that end, she and Tam O’Shaughnessy started Sally Ride Science nearly 10 years ago. The company creates educational material for classroom use, all designed to spark children’s interest in science and, as in Ride’s words, to “make science cool.” The pair also started the annual Sally Ride Science Festival, a fun and free celebration of hands-on science-related activities geared toward middle grade students with a goal of igniting “student interest in STEM fields and careers.”

"Sherr has done an outstanding job, using quotes from countless sources and adding personal information from those closest to Ride. She writes with much humor and a good dollop of entertaining word choice."

Ride was affiliated with NASA for many years. In addition to her two space flights, she investigated both the Challenger and Columbia disasters, helping NASA figure out what went wrong on each of those missions.

Although her picture was often splashed on the front page of newspapers and on TV screens around the world, Ride was a very private person. She had been in a same-sex relationship for 27 years, yet it wasn’t until after her death that most of the world found out. Although Ride and her partner, the aforementioned O’Shaughnessy, were not ashamed of their relationship, Ride deeply cherished her privacy. However, following her passing, O’Shaughnessy decided it was time to tell the whole Sally Ride story.

To that end, Sherr has done an outstanding job, using quotes from countless sources and adding personal information from those closest to Ride. She writes with much humor and a good dollop of entertaining word choice. For instance, consider this sentence: “As the popular image of women progressed from Doris Day to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the real boundaries were expanded from the secretarial pool to the ocean of space, she [Sally Ride] helped prove that The Right Stuff doesn’t require the right plumbing; that girls and women can do anything they want.”

In addition, Sherr provides a long list of both Sources and Notes she used in her research. She includes the names of every person she interviewed, a total of 167 (I counted!). That’s impressive --- and so is this definitive biography.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on July 3, 2014

Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space
by Lynn Sherr

  • Publication Date: June 3, 2014
  • Genres: Biography, History, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1476725764
  • ISBN-13: 9781476725765