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Chasing space : an astronaut's story of grit, grace, and second chances
2017
Availability
Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
Science and engineering
Sports
Topics
Astronauts
Chemists
Football players
Athletes
Community life
Perseverance
Success
Overcoming adversity
Setting
- United States
Time Period
-- 20th-21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews
Publishers Weekly Review
In this wide-ranging memoir, Melvin, a retired astronaut, football player, engineer, and educator, shares anecdotes of the many challenges he has faced as well as his multitude of accomplishments and the role models who inspired him. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions, but hamstring injuries ended his hopes for a career in the NFL before it even took off. Fortunately, Melvin was recruited to work as an optical engineer at NASA's Langley research center in Virginia. He writes with bemusement about the publicity he dealt with after earning a coveted slot in the astronaut corps. For someone of such remarkable achievement, Melvin demonstrates impressive humility and depth of character as he discusses overcoming myriad setbacks, such as the training accident that left him deaf in one ear and nearly grounded him for good. His missions aboard the space shuttle ended after the cancellation of the shuttle program, sending Melvin to break new ground in NASA's Educator Astronaut Program and as cochair of the White House Committee on STEM Education. Melvin writes honestly about his mistakes as well as his triumphs, urging readers to pursue their dreams with determination and hard work. Agent: Dave Larabell, Creative Artists. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Featuring an eye-catching cover of Melvin in his spacesuit with his two dogs lovingly gazing at him, this memoir of an "unexpected astronaut" will appeal to a wide audience. It opens with a description of how ruptured eardrums nearly ended years of training before he even had the chance to go into space. Melvin persevered, just as his family taught him, and 10 years later became a crew member on the space shuttle Atlantis and worked aboard the International Space Station. His experiences in space will intrigue readers, as will the details of his pre-NASA life. As a young man, Melvin had received a scholarship to play NCAA football while majoring in science at the University of Richmond. He briefly played for the NFL but was sidelined because of an injury. The author makes his seemingly larger-than-life experiences relatable to readers, emphasizing how his hard work and confidence were crucial to his success. Young athletes will especially appreciate the discussion of how a sports team can act as an extended family, and Melvin's account of the difficulties he encountered as an African American man in an often predominantly white setting will resonate with teens. VERDICT A heartfelt offering for fans of inspiring memoirs, sports lovers, or those interested in the STEM fields.-Sherry J. Mills, Hazelwood East High School, St. Louis © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Former NFL wide receiver turned astronaut Melvin's humble beginnings and unique philosophy of life weave themselves gracefully into this memoir of a larger-than-life existence. Set against the backdrop of a politically and racially charged South, Melvin's tale moves from one incredible experience to another: from being a chemist, to an athlete, to an engineer and space traveler, now with many TV appearances and this book under his belt. Though Melvin refers to his story as one of grit and grace, he does so without a shred of ego. He speaks frankly of his feelings about past defeats, and credits his upbringing, and what it taught him about conviction, for his ability to accomplish virtually any goal he set for himself, whether it was playing professional football or flying in space. Second chances played a key role in Melvin's ability to overcome obstacles and achieve his many dreams, and he'll have readers wondering how many chances it would take them to do the same.--Mattalia, Glendy X. Copyright 2017 Booklist
Summary

In this revelatory and moving memoir, a former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, examining the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.

Leland Melvin is the only person in human history to catch a pass in the National Football League and in space. Though his path to the heavens was riddled with setbacks and injury, Leland persevered to reach the stars.

While training with NASA, Melvin suffered a severe injury that left him deaf. Leland was relegated to earthbound assignments, but chose to remain and support his astronaut family. His loyalty paid off. Recovering partial hearing, he earned his eligibility for space travel. He served as mission specialist for two flights aboard the shuttle Atlantis, working on the International Space Station.

In this uplifting memoir, the former NASA astronaut and professional athlete offers an examination of the intersecting role of community, determination, and grace that align to shape our opportunities and outcomes. Chasing Space is not the story of one man, but the story of many men, women, scientists, and mentors who helped him defy the odds and live out an uncommon destiny.

As a chemist, athlete, engineer and space traveler, Leland's life story is a study in the science of achievement. His personal insights illuminate how grit and grace, are the keys to overcoming adversity and rising to success.

Table of Contents
1I Really Can't Hearp. 1
2Vision, Grit, And Lynchburgp. 17
3Second Chancesp. 37
4A Short Life in the NFLp. 57
5NASA Langleyp. 75
6The World's Most Exclusive Clubp. 95
7Recovery And Tragedyp. 123
8Training For Spacep. 141
9The Final Frontierp. 161
10Educatorp. 187
11The Next Missionp. 219
Acknowledgmentsp. 235
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