Title: My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer
Author: Anousheh Ansari & Homer Hickam
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Space
Rating: 4 out of 5
Anousheh Ansari’s dream ever since she was a young girl growing up in Iran was to fly in space. Even after emigrating to the United States, growing up, going to college, and getting married, she never let go of that childhood dream. She never imagined she’d have the opportunity to go into space on a Soyuz capsule as a commercial spaceflight participant. This is a memoir about how Anousheh Ansari’s dream came true.
My Dream of Stars is a cosmonaut memoir from a very unique perspective: that of a commercial spaceflight participant. Anousheh Ansari wasn’t a Russian selected to fly on merit alone. Instead, she had been working with the X Prize spaceflight competition, donating money to help with the prize, and was asked if she wanted to train as a cosmonaut to potentially fly in space one day. There were no guarantees, but Ansari jumped at even the vaguest hint of being able to fly in space.
Because Ansari basically purchased a seat on a Soyuz capsule, she knew there would be a stigma attached to her spaceflight, and she worked incredibly hard to overcome it. Time and time again, her peers underestimate her and are surprised by her dedication, resilience, and determination to be the best at whatever she tries. I thought that this part of the memoir was wonderful; my inclination was to discount Ansari because she wasn’t selected as a cosmonaut, but she definitely proved me wrong.
Ansari’s voice is endearing and inspirational, and she really sets a great example. Her message is that hard work can really make your dreams come true – after all, the reason she even had money to give to the X Prize was because she had formed a company with her husband and brother-in-law, and then sold it for a lot of money. Even after she had more money than she’d ever need, she still remained active, forming a non-profit foundation and, of course, training for six months to be a cosmonaut.
This memoir is admittedly a little bit on the surface; though Ansari does include her true thoughts and feelings, it’s very straightforward. She also tries to shy away from controversy as much as possible; understandable, considering she is a commercial spaceflight participant, but it makes the memoir less meaty than readers might prefer. As a result, I think this book would be an excellent choice for a mother and young daughter to read together. It inspires the imagination and really shows the value of hard work, and I think that would be a rewarding experience.
My Dream of Stars was an engaging, interesting look at spaceflight from a “space tourist’s” perspective (though Ansari is adamant that she hates that term because she did undergo six months of cosmonaut training prior to her spaceflight). Though it did leave me wanting in some areas, I enjoyed the time I spent with it, and highly recommend it to a younger audience in order to inspire their imaginations and show them what they are capable of.