Mitchell may not be the first writer to openly debate the question but her voice is a soothing one, thus making her novel a must-read for squeamish parents of tech-savvy teens. Teens are smarter than the average parent. They often intuit then make gut-level decisions that are spot on. But will mom or dad listen to the young voices of reason? And when those voices and notes spell out ads that trumpet upcoming misdeeds, not heeding makes for deadly mistakes that cannot be undone. And the only way of catching the acts, before they happen, often occur in a safe harbor like a novel. We want to read the book and love the people in it — if and only if the creator of these characters breathes life into them. On this score, the author delivers. Her warmth as a writer translates well on the printed page. We care about her fiction because she cares about her craft.
The second half of the novel's 291 pages captures Kate's shifting sands of the heart. Will she or won't she connect with one of the two men vying for her attention? Or will she run away? When the sand settles into a careful colorful Buddhist mandala that Kate reads — its message surprises her. The inflexibility is gone with the guilt and self-loathing. She is innocent of ruining her life and that of her family. She understands that it is far easier to accept human frailty than it is to deconstruct and rebuild it without written or expressed consent.
Americans in Space is a great cold-day-airport-wait kinda friend to have on hand because it is well-paced, interesting, funny, and a lovely read. While coping with sudden loss is never easy to read about I enjoyed every page, line, and chapter of this modern novel. A book-length road map which divines a diverse landscape and the shared misgivings that await parents in the 21st century. My only criticism is that while this novel combines the chaos of Kate's personal and professional life I expected more grit and angst from inside the halls of Shepard High... I also wanted more pages to read. But that's a good thing. On the other hand, Americans In Space is one author's wonderful take inside the parental beltway.